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Weed-Out Classes and Their Consequences

Abstract

As the overall study findings described in Chap. 2 make clear, the majority of issues contributing to STEM switching or relocation, and to the ongoing difficulties of persisting, converge on student experiences in what are commonly referenced as “weed-out” classes. Overall, 25% of interviewees reported negative consequences arising from aspects of these classes, including 43% of STEM switchers and 35% whose decisions to switch were directly shaped by their weed-out class experiences. Among persisters, 18% also described negative consequences from particular weed-out classes, including 6% who relocated to a different STEM major or dropped a second major. This chapter addresses: what characteristics define certain foundational STEM classes or courses as “weed-out” in their nature and consequences; what do students experience that create learning and persistence difficulties; which student groups do weed-out classes place at most risk of switching, relocation, or dropping out of college? To answer these questions, we draw on findings from four component studies: institutional records analysis from the six sample sites; interview data from 96 switchers and 250 persisters; Student Assessment of their Learning Gains (SALG) surveys deployed in STEM foundation courses across all sites; and findings from an observation study of teaching practices in those same courses. We also present findings from our collaborators in a concurrent study of “DFWI” rates in four foundation-level STEM courses located in each of 36 institutions participating in the Gardner Institute’s “Gateways to Completion” project.

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Correspondence to Timothy J. Weston .

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Weston, T.J., Seymour, E., Koch, A.K., Drake, B.M. (2019). Weed-Out Classes and Their Consequences. In: Seymour, E., Hunter, AB. (eds) Talking about Leaving Revisited. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-25304-2_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-25304-2_7

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