Thesis

Preparing for a future in STEM: supporting adolescent girls and advanced level math enrollment in high school.

The goal of this study was to identify who supports the educational planning of girls in grade 9 to predict advanced level math course taking in grade 11. Therefore, this study investigated which supportive figure(s), peers, parents and/or teachers, discussed math enrollment with female adolescents and if this support helped guide them to enroll in advanced level mathematics. In addition, this study investigated whether an additive model of social capital provided a stronger network of social support for girls in grade 9 to encourage advanced level math enrollment in grade 11. This study employed secondary data analysis using The High School Longitudinal Study (HSLS), a nationally represented sample (Ingels & Dalton, 2013; Kelly & Zhang, 2016). The HSLS is a longitudinal study of a nationally represented sample size of approximately 25,210 ninth grade students in 944 schools within the United States (Ingels & Dalton, 2013; Kelly & Zhang, 2016). Students in this study were first surveyed in 2009 as 9th grade students and then again two and a half years later in 2012 when the majority of the cohort was in the spring term of their 11th grade year. This study focused on 11,489 female students who participated in the HSLS: 09 base year questionnaire as well as first follow up study of 2012. The study identified that the presence of supportive figure(s) in the lives of female high school students in grade nine predicted advanced math course enrollment in grade 11, and provided evidence for an additive model of social capital. An additive model of social capital suggests that having peers, parents and teachers as sources of support bolsters the academic career of a student (Rosenfeld, Richman, & Bowen, 2000). Future research should examine how this unique network of social support (i.e. peers, parents, and teachers) can interact to provide support for adolescent female students.

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