Impact of a Sophomore Seminar on STEM Majors Desire to Pursue a Science Career

  • Ryan D. Sweeder
  • Philip E. Strong
Keywords: student retention, student recruiting, seminar


This study focuses on the impact of a sophomore seminar on STEM majors desire to pursue a science career. This seminar was a component in a broader scholarship program and focused on helping students gain a broader understanding of the process of science, expose students to a range of career options and provide opportunities for outside of class student-faculty/scientist interactions. Interviews and reflection papers by the fifteen students who completed the seminar suggest that the most common benefits from the course involved development/refinement of a career decisions, fomenting of self confidence and empowerment, and awareness of available resources to assist in the pursuit of a STEM career. The students very clearly indicted the importance and impact of a wide range of informal interactions between themselves and faculty or other scientist, helping the students put a personal face on those who have previously pursued a science career. Additionally, the exposure to these scientists and their stories along with a more complete discussion about the process of science (including funding, dissemination and ethics) spurred five of fifteen students to reconsider the possibility of research as a career option.