Date of Award

4-2020

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Chemistry

First Advisor

Dr. Megan Kowalske

Second Advisor

Dr. Kelly Teske

Third Advisor

Dr. Ramakrishna Guda

Keywords

Chemistry education, career readiness, undergraduate education, chemistry major, freshman seminar

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Restricted to Campus until

4-30-2022

Abstract

In recent years there has been a push to increase the number of STEM graduates in the United States in order for the nation to retain its position as a global leader in the sciences. If educators are to address recruitment and attrition issues in STEM fields it is important to understand student perspectives related to choosing both a major and a career in chemistry. The present study explores the decision-making process students utilize to choose chemistry as a major and as a career, their perception of what careers are available to someone with a degree in chemistry and what those careers entail, and the resources they utilize when making those decisions and developing those perceptions. Narrative inquiry and case study analysis were utilized to gather each participants’ experience. Several findings emerged during the study, including the idea that interest in chemistry often develops during high school; participants were often unsure of what a career in chemistry actually looked like, but were planning on pursuing one of those careers regardless; formal resources were limited when it came to making career decisions; and mentoring relationships were often used to gather information on careers in chemistry. Limitations and implications of the research were also discussed. Ideas for future research were examined, including a seminar course or series to provide a formal resource for students and discussing resources with industrial professionals who have the benefit of hindsight to guide on what resources might have been useful to them in their undergraduate career.

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