A Review of Retention Models for STEM Majors and Their Alignment to Community Colleges

Keywords: higher education, STEM education, community college, retention, predictive models


During the last decade, there have been numerous reports detailing the importance of increasing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors in the United States. Simultaneously, an increasing number of studies are being developed to predict a student’s success and completion of a STEM degree, recognizing that retention is a significant issue for STEM majors. A majority of the studies focus on traditional college students that attend college directly after high school, which is no longer the model of the majority of college students. A growing number of students delay entry into college and do not enter through traditional routes. One of the growing entry points for STEM students is the community college or two-year institution. These institutions have grown in popularity due to tuition increases and lack of preparedness for traditional selective universities. As the need for more STEM majors and a diverse workforce increases, more research should be directed towards this growing pool of students. Retention models should investigate unique retention causation factors more thoroughly to address these STEM students and this pipeline. This research provides a systematic review of the literature on retention models for STEM education and provides a discussion of future opportunities to align predictive models with community colleges.

Author Biographies

Jennifer L. Snyder, Valencia College
Jennifer Snyder is the Dean of Science for the East Campus of Valencia College.
Elizabeth A Cudney, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Dr. Elizabeth Cudney is an Associate Professor in the Engineering Management and Systems Engineering Department at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She received her B.S. in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University, Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Business Administration from the University of Hartford, and her doctorate in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri – Rolla. In 2014, Dr. Cudney was elected as an ASEM Fellow. In 2013, Dr. Cudney was elected as an ASQ Fellow. In 2010, Dr. Cudney was inducted into the International Academy for Quality. She received the 2008 ASQ A.V. Feigenbaum Medal and the 2006 SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineering Award. She has published six books and over 60 journal papers. She is an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer, Manager of Quality/Operational Excellence, and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt. She is a member of the ASEE, ASEM, ASQ, IISE, and the Japan Quality Engineering Society (JQES).