Increasing Retention of Underrepresented Students in STEM Fields at California Community Colleges: A Study of the STEM2 Program

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Higher Edu and Learning Technology

Date of Award

Spring 2019


With the need to increase STEM graduates, it is necessary that all institutions of higher education determine ways to increase the retention of these students to increase underrepresented STEM student retention rates. Cypress Community College in Southern California implemented a program called STEM2 (Strengthen Transfer Education and Matriculation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to give students the support and the resources to continue with their intended majors. In this study, the researcher examined the impact of the STEM2 participation on retention, transfer rates, and associates of arts (AA) degree completion of STEM majors. Because the number of STEM2 support program activities students participated in, student gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES) may have influenced student outcomes, the researcher also investigated how these factors impacted retention, transfer rates, and AA degree completion as well. The researcher obtained student background and verification data from the National Student Clearinghouse and the Institutional Research office of Cypress Community College. The data were then used in a logistics regression analysis to determine the significance of the input variables and the odds that the desired outcome was achieved. Results indicated that the following did not have any significant impact on AA degree attainment for students receiving financial aid: gender, ethnicity, and SES. As for transfer rates, gender did not have a significant impact, but SES and Asian ethnicity had small, positive impacts and Hispanic ethnicity had a small, negative impact. Results for fall-to-fall persistence showed only a small, positive impact based on SES. Results also indicated there is a difference in student outcomes based on enrollment in the STEM2 program. STEM2 students are 3.12 times more likely to obtain their AA degree and 3.06 times more likely to transfer than students not enrolled in the program. However, STEM2 enrollment did not significantly increase fall-to-fall persistence of students. Nevertheless, the more STEM2 activities students participated in, the more likely they were to obtain an AA degree, persist fall-to-fall, and to transfer to another institution.


Jo Hyun Kim

Subject Categories

Education | Higher Education