Teachers College, Columbia University

Measuring STEM Momentum: Early Indicators of STEM Transfer Success for Community College Students

Measuring STEM Momentum: Early Indicators of STEM Transfer Success for Community College Students

This brief summarizes findings from a study of the postsecondary college transcript and degree records of hundreds of thousands of transfer-intending community college students in three states. The study explored and tested metrics that could be useful in the formative assessment of efforts to improve STEM transfer outcomes.

Findings show that first-year completion of a calculus course and first-year completion of a science, technology, or engineering (STE) course specified on statewide STEM transfer pathways are both reliable indicators of subsequent STEM transfer success across a wide range of state and institutional contexts. These two metrics are robust predictors of success among subgroups of students by race/ ethnicity and gender. In general, community colleges have relatively low rates of completion of these key STEM courses, and disparities in completion of these courses by race/ethnicity and gender are common. The STEM momentum metrics identified in the study may therefore be useful for colleges seeking to strengthen STEM transfer outcomes and close equity gaps in STEM bachelor’s degree attainment.

A CCRC working paper provides more details from this study.