The Importance of Faculty-Student Connections in STEM Disciplines

Barbara L Christe


Despite an alarm raised by Seymour and Hewitt (1997) describing science, engineering, and mathematics programs as chilly and unwelcoming, students continue to report significant feelings of hostility and a lack of caring when characterizing the professor-student relationship. The negative feelings correlate with poor course performance, lower grade point average, and attrition from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines (Micari & Pazos, 2012; Vogt, 2008). A review of the scholarly research may offer educators compelling evidence to change attitudes that are currently characterized with an expectation of attrition as a natural and useful action in an environment that places retention responsibility onto students. In contrast, a shift to a professor-student connection featuring a supportive and caring relationship can promote student success. To decrease attrition and meet employer demands for graduates, STEM disciplines must seek a change in academic culture away from survival of the fittest to a nurturing experience that supports achievement.


education; student enagagement; student retention; relationships

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JSTEM. ISSN: 1557-5284