Self-Efficacy Perception in 11th-grade African-American Girls’ Decisions to Pursue STEM Careers in Higher Education: A Case Study

Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2017

Document Type

Restricted Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Donna Graham, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Michael Jazzar, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Deborah Gilbert, Ed.D.


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore 11th grade African American female students' perception of self-efficacy, in their consideration to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and STEM-related majors in college and careers. The theoretical foundation used for this study was the social cognitive theory. The research questions that were used to guide this study focused on how self-efficacy affected the decision of African American high school female students to consider pursuing STEM majors in college, and how African-American high school females perceived factors influencing their choice to pursue studies in STEM fields in major secondary consideration. Data collection consisted of the STEM self-efficacy questionnaire administered at the beginning of the school year and re-administered after the first semester. One-on-one interviews of twenty African American urban high school females were also conducted. This study explored the connections between academic, emotional, and social self-efficacy amongst the students when considering whether to pursue STEM-based majors in college. The data supported the research questions that self-efficacy was directly related to the student's perception in pursuing STEM and STEM-related majors and careers. The four themes that emerged were: academic success, which hinged on being successful in mathematic classes, the role of family and friends support, harmony with classmates, and concerns of how success looks. Findings from this study provided educators and other stakeholders with ideas to assist focusing on strengthening African American female’s STEM representation and closing the leaky STEM pipeline.

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