The "Postsecondary Pathways into STEM for Students with Disabilities" is designed to investigate the effects of high school context, social and academic processes and experiences, and institutional context on pathways to postsecondary STEM success and completion of students with disabilities in STEM.

Data analyses will be conducted using information from the Education Longitudinal Study (ELS) of 2002 and the 2004-2009 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS); these datasets follow a nationally representative sample of students as they transition from high school into adulthood and post-secondary settings. This research will focus on the diverse postsecondary educational pathways of students with and without disabilities and will address the following three question sets:

I. College Preparation and the Transition into Postsecondary Education or Work:

The first line of inquiry will estimate the effects of high school outcomes such as graduation, course- taking, grades, test scores, and social-psychological factors on the transition into STEM postsecondary education and work. Special attention will be paid to differences among students with disabilities depending on disability type, socioeconomic status, gender, and race/ethnicity.

II. Postsecondary Pathways into STEM:

The second line of investigation will look at the effects of college preparation, early college experiences, and institutional characteristics on students' postsecondary pathways into STEM. The researchers aim to identify and predict students' successful pathways through postsecondary into and through STEM fields of study.

III. Postsecondary STEN Attainment:

The third line of the study will investigate the impact of postsecondary experiences and institutions on the completion of STEM degrees. The research will evaluate differences in persistence and time to STEM degree or certification between students with and without disabilities. Transcript data will be used to ascertain differences in STEM literacy. Ultimately, the researchers will seek to identify the policy-relevant factors that promote successful postsecondary degree completion among students with disabilities.

This project will be evaluated by an independent evaluator utilizing a logic model detailing the anticipated activities, outputs, outcomes and impact of the research. Dissemination activities will target researchers, practitioners, and advocates. Peer-reviewed journals will also advance dissemination to researchers, faculty, employers, and other stakeholders.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Human Resource Development (HRD)
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Mark H. Leddy
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University of Texas Austin
United States
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