Social Capital and Persistence of Students in Science Majors

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posted on 28.11.2018, 00:00 by David Segura
This study examined the role of social capital on persistence using three data sources. First, this study drew on the NELS 88:00 dataset to examine the effect of social capital on 1-year and 2-year persistence within different science fields, and among non-science majors. Then, this study compared life, physical, and other science majors on factors influencing persistence using a designed survey. Lastly, this study used semi-structured interviews to examine how six Latinx life and physical science majors drew on social capital to persist and negotiated their networks in order to reduce detrimental impacts to persistence. Findings from the secondary analysis of NELS 88:00 data using a binary probit ridge regression suggests that social capital impacts 2-year persistence more than 1-year persistence, but that there also exist baseline differences between different fields that complicate interpret this effect. Findings from analysis of a designed survey using ridge regression models showed no difference between science fields for six factors impacting persistence, although Latinx race/ethnicity indicated lower academic performance (college GPA) and gender indicated for higher academic performance and peer social capital. Findings from analysis of semi-structured interviews using hybrid (a priori initial, evaluation, pattern) coding suggests that students use their agency to access those resources they find necessary to persist, but this involves managing detrimental impacts that are parceled with this support. Such instances included access to advice on how to access resources on campus with encouragement to leave science because of its difficulty, or the use of family for childcare that also involved contending with encouragement to leave school to serve in gendered roles of a mother that did not include working or attending school. Implications for supporting science students, is presented, as well as avenues for future research.



Cosner, Shelby


Cosner, Shelby


Educational Policy Studies

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Committee Member

Karabatsos, George Sima, Celina Quiroz, Pamela A Secada, Walter G

Submitted date

August 2018

Issue date