Asian American Students' Postsecondary STEM Education Pathways
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This study aims to understand Asian American students’ postsecondary STEM education pathways. It examined Asian American students as a whole and as geographical and generational subgroups. It studied postsecondary STEM education as a whole and as five different fields. It examined STEM pathways through six research topics. And, it explored factors that related to Asian American students’ STEM education pathways. This study contributes to the current research body by focusing on an important matter that needs more exploration, by offering justifiable definitions and classifications of Asian Americans and STEM education, and by suggesting related factors of STEM education. An US national representative and longitudinal data set, Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002), was utilized in this study to explore the intended research topics. SPSS, R, and AM were used for the analyses. Missing data imputation was applied. When analyzing the data, the nested structure of ELS: 2002 was considered. And, both descriptive and inferential analyses were carried out. The descriptive analyses were used both as a preparation for inferential analyses and as ways to answer the research questions. The inferential analyses were realized through stepwise logistic regressions. With three regressions for Asian Americans as a whole and three regressions for Asian Americans as subgroups, six stepwise regressions were conducted for the research topics of postsecondary enrollment, STEM choice as a whole, and STEM completion as whole. Due to the limitation of the analytic sample sizes, the research topics of STEM as an individual major choice, STEM individual major completion, and STEM individual major persistence were not examined by using regressions. This study found that Asian American students were generally more likely to receive postsecondary education and major in STEM fields than White students. Among the five STEM fields, Asian American and White students both favored the fields of biological/agricultural sciences and engineering/engineering technologies. Both Asian American and White students were likely to obtain STEM degrees and persist in the same STEM fields they originally chose. More importantly, examination of the within-Asian American differences indicated that basically no difference was found among Asian American subgroups at certain stages of STEM education: receiving postsecondary education, choosing a STEM major, obtaining a STEM degree, and persisting in the same STEM fields. Nevertheless, Asian American subgroup disparities were found in choosing and obtaining a degree in different STEM fields. On the other hand, different stages of Asian American students’ postsecondary STEM education pathways did not involve the same related factors. Moreover, the same factors did not exhibit the same relative status at different pathway stages. The results imply the importance for future research to examine the within- Asian American and STEM education differences. Also, they have implications for ways to increase postsecondary enrollment, STEM major choice, and STEM degree obtainment.