Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave The Sciences

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Westview Press, Nov 10, 2008 - Social Science - 256 pages
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This intriguing book explores the reasons that lead undergraduates of above-average ability to switch from science, mathematics, and engineering majors into nonscience majors. Based on a three-year, seven-campus study, the volume takes up the ongoing national debate about the quality of undergraduate education in these fields, offering explanations for net losses of students to non-science majors. Data show that approximately 40 percent of undergraduate students leave engineering programs, 50 percent leave the physical and biological sciences, and 60 percent leave mathematics. Concern about this waste of talent is heightened because these losses occur among the most highly qualified college entrants and are disproportionately greater among women and students of color, despite a serious national effort to improve their recruitment and retention. The authors' findings, culled from over 600 hours of ethnographic interviews and focus group discussions with undergraduates, explain the intended and unintended consequences of some traditional teaching practices and attitudes. Talking about Leaving is richly illustrated with students' accounts of their own experiences in the sciences. This is a landmark study-an essential source book for all those concerned with changing the ways that we teach science, mathematics, and engineering education, and with opening these fields to a more diverse student body.
 

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Contents

IV
1
V
13
VI
24
VII
30
VIII
50
IX
53
X
78
XI
87
XXXI
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XXXII
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XXXIII
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XXXIV
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XXXV
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XXXVI
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XXXVII
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XXXVIII
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XII
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XIII
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XIV
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XV
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XVI
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XVII
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XVIII
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XIX
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XX
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XXI
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XXII
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XXIII
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XXIV
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XXV
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XXVI
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XXVII
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XXVIII
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XXIX
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XXX
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XXXIX
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XL
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XLI
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XLII
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XLIII
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XLIV
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XLV
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XLVI
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XLVII
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XLVIII
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XLIX
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L
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LI
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LII
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LIII
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LIV
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LV
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LVI
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Page 123 - Look to the right of you; look to the left of you, Forty percent of you won't be here next year.
Page 271 - To be faced with the prospect of four years of isolation and male hostility on the one hand, and the abrupt withdrawal of familiar sources of praise, encouragement, and reassurance by faculty on the other...
Page 260 - ... challenge is a central theme in many rites of passage into manhood: the boy is challenged to test his mettle against that of the established adult males who set hurdles for him to surmount before he is allowed to join them — initially as an apprentice, ultimately, as an equal. The nature of the challenge is as much moral as it is intellectual, in that it is intended to test the ability of young men to tolerate stress, pain, or humiliation with fortitude and self-control. By a deliberate denial...
Page 5 - Xi, the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC), and the American Association...
Page 32 - Ranked according to the contribution which they make to switching, these are: * lack or loss of interest in science * belief that a non-SME major holds more interest, or offers a better education * poor teaching by SME faculty * feeling overwhelmed by the pace and load of curriculum demands Seven issues were cited as shared concerns by more than one-third of both switchers and non-switchers.
Page 271 - To a much higher degree than is the case for young men, preserving the selfconfidence which young women bring into college depends on periodic reinforcement by teachers.

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