ITP | Can Utility Value Interventions in Introductory Chemistry Improve Persistence and Promote Diversity in STEM Fields?

March 3, 2023, Noon-1:30 pm Central Time

259 Educational Sciences and Zoom

Michael Asher

Graduate Student, Psychology, UW–Madison

Michael Asher

We tested the long-term effects of a utility-value intervention administered in a gateway chemistry course, with the goal of promoting persistence and diversity in STEM. In a randomized controlled trial (N = 2,505), students wrote three essays about course content and its personal relevance or three control essays. The intervention improved STEM persistence for all students (74% vs. 70% were STEM majors 2.5 years later). Effects were larger for students from underrepresented racial/ethnic minority groups, who were 14 percentage points more likely to persist in STEM fields in the intervention condition (69% vs. 55%). Mediation analysis suggests that the intervention promoted persistence for these students by bolstering their motivation to attain a STEM degree. This theory-informed curricular intervention is a promising tool for educators committed to retaining students in STEM.

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