Planning for Higher Education Journal

Planning for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Retention

Understanding the Implications of the Theory of Planned Behavior
Journal Cover
From Volume 43 Number 4 | July–September 2015
By Laura G. Foltz, Charles B. Foltz, Stephanie L. Kirschmann

This study uses the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) in explaining the intent to graduate of students in introductory chemistry courses. Retention studies focus on interactional theories and high-impact practices such as student integration, student engagement through research experiences, student-faculty mentor relationships, and peer tutoring; however, these studies fail to provide a theoretical model to explain and predict student behavior. Findings echo the importance of relationships with peers, faculty, and staff and suggest that subjective norms (positive peer pressure) influence student intentions. Perceived behavioral control and attitudes play a less significant role, but may be part of a STEM retention strategy. This framework assists planners in examining current programs for improvement opportunities and identifying other initiatives to help retain STEM students. Future studies should examine the use of this model for predicting retention and staging interventions to retain STEM students.

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