For students considering science, technology, engineering or math majors, there’s a lot more that goes into the decision than what was previously known.
A recent study written by Xueli Wang, a professor of educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that exposure to a wide variety of STEM subjects — not just good grades — factors into a student’s decision to major in the field. Another important factor is self-efficacy, or how much one believes in his or her own ability to do the work.
Previous studies found that students who have higher math scores in high school are more likely to major in a STEM field. STEM subjects have received emphasis from politicians and educators in recent years, including in North Carolina.
“When students are in high school, their interest in STEM goes beyond achievement in math — attitudes toward math and exposure to math and science courses are also critical,” Wang said. “Once students get to college, their decision to choose a STEM major continues to be influenced by motivational beliefs and future educational aspirations.”
Winston George, a UNC junior Biology major with Chemistry and Entrepreneurship minors, said there was more than one factor in making his decision.