The Pathways through College Research Network (PCRN) is a group of scholars led by Eric Grodsky of the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Chandra Muller of the University of Texas at Austin.  These select scholars are performing research with the goal of enriching our understanding of student pathways to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) baccalaureate degrees and the impact of different types of interventions on those pathways across diverse students and STEM fields.  This research is funded by the National Science Foundation under grants NSF DUE 1317196 (Eric Grodsky, PI) and NSF DUE 1317206 (Chandra Muller, PI).


Image of Math Student

Particular attention is given to how the STEM entry and attrition processes and the impacts of the interventions we study vary by gender and race/ethnicity in order to ensure that the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) is able to reach out to a diverse population of future scientists, mathematicians and engineers.




Students with Laser
Image from NSF Multimedia Gallery

Paying close attention to the temporal dynamics of course choice and student change over the first few terms of college enrollment, this study will advance our understanding of the individual and interpersonal determinants of STEM major choice and persistence and of how the innovative practices designed and implemented by our STEP Type 1 grant partners intersect with and influence students’ choices.



Some specific aspects of STEM education addressed include expectations of grades in selected STEM courses and overall, experiences in selected classes and on campus more generally, noncognitive skills (including grit, conscientiousness, openness to new experiences and risk aversion), participation in programs intended to increase STEM entry and persistence and persistence and academic performance as measured by college transcripts.



Topics/variables to be analyzed include student major, experiences in the major and in college, estimated probabilities of degree completion and graduate school attendance and expected earnings as well as several dimensions of personality and identity, including conscientiousness and openness to experiences form the Big Five, grit (Duckworth’s short scale), different aspect of risk aversion, science and math identity, parental education, race/ethnicity, and gender.





This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers 1317196 and 1317206. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.



Banner image is a modification of an image from the NASA Earth Observatory.