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What Enables Persistence?

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the complex and interrelated factors that contribute to students’ persistence in STEM majors. Like switching, persistence is a process for students that unfolds over time and involves many modifications and adjustments to their prior identities, practices, and habits. Students drew on an array of individual, social, cultural, and institutional resources to persist and succeed in STEM as no one approach or strategy was sufficient to ensure students’ success. Students with low math readiness were more likely to use a variety of means to ensure their survival in STEM. Persisters faced many of the same obstacles as switchers, such as poor grades, difficult coursework, heavy workloads, and poor instruction, yet they were able to shift or adapt their expectations and identities to accommodate and overcome these difficulties. From their interactions with peers, many persisters adjusted their perceptions of poor grades and came to a more sophisticated understanding of curved grading practices over time. Informal peer study groups also provided essential academic, social, and emotional support for many persisters. While formal institutional support and informal peer support factored heavily in students’ persistence, most persisters still viewed their STEM major as a “game” to play or a challenge to overcome.

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Thiry, H. (2019). What Enables Persistence?. In: Seymour, E., Hunter, AB. (eds) Talking about Leaving Revisited. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-25304-2_12

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-25304-2_12

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