Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Jainping Shen

Second Advisor

Dr. William Cobern

Third Advisor

Dr. Donald Thompson


This qualitative study sought to determine how girls perceived factors that contribute to their success in science programs designed to maximize their achievement. The sample consisted of 20 students in 9th and 12th grades attending a school of choice. Respondents were interviewed using a structured interview protocol.

The National Council for Research on Women study (Thom, 2001) found that girls are more successful in math and science programs that incorporate acooperative, hands-on approach than in programs that stress competition and individual learning. This finding was supported by this study among 20 high school girls in a school whose mission is to improve the access of girls who study and choose careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines. Related studies on the subject of the underrepresentation of girls and women in science and related disciplines raise the question why so few girls choose STEM careers.

Qualitative inductive analysis was used to discover critical themes that emerged from the data. The initial results were presented within the context of the following five themes: (1) learning styles, (2) long-term goals, (3) subject matter, (4) classroom climate/environment, and (5) evaluation. After further analysis, the researcher found that factors cited by the girls as contributing to their success in science programs specifically designed to maximize their achievement were: (a) cooperative learning, (b) a custom-tailored curriculum, and (c) positive influences of mentors.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access