The True Cost: An Analysis of Course Registration Patterns in the College of Sciences
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In the United States, less than half of college students who enroll in a STEM program will graduate with a STEM degree (Chen 2013). Attrition rates are disproportionately high for marginalized students, leading to a homogenous STEM workforce (Simon et al. 2021). This study, completed at an R1 midsized southeastern university, investigates course registration patterns and student opinions to determine what factors contribute to students leaving STEM majors through the lens of the Deep Teaching model (Dewsbury 2019). Through survey and course enrollment data, we determined that 1) students feel overwhelmingly negative about textbook costs, 2) financially insecure students are significantly more likely to consider course material costs when registering for courses and 3) students add and drop courses for a wide variety of personal, course, and university level reasons. These results indicate that implementing Deep Teaching in the classroom, specifically focused on self-awareness and empathy, can increase retention in STEM and reduce attrition rates.