Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ed.D.)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Ceceilia Parnther

Second Advisor

Joan I. Birringer-Haig

Third Advisor

David Rosenthal


The purpose of this study sought to examine how midterm math performance can impact a student’s final math performance, STEM performance, overall performance, as well as retention and graduation with a STEM major. The sample consisted of 283 first-time full-time undergraduate students who were admitted in Fall 2014 as STEM majors within a liberal arts and sciences college at a private, not-for-profit, urban, highly diverse university located in the northeast. Academic record data from between September 2014 – May 2020 was obtained. Multiple and logistic regression analyses were performed, as well as independent samples t-tests. Results of the study revealed that while midterm math performance was not a direct predictor of retention and graduation when taking all college performance variables into account, it could be considered as an indirect predictor due to its positive relationship with cumulative GPA, where increasing cumulative GPA increased a student’s chance of being retained and graduated as STEM. Similar results were found in relation to final math performance and STEM GPA. Furthermore, it was found that students who graduated in STEM had, on average, higher midterm and final math GPAs compared to students who leave or change their major out of STEM. This study also revealed the importance of not only looking at the retention into the second year but also retention into the third year, where underrepresented minorities in STEM had a substantial attrition rate during this transition. The need for STEM graduates continues to be a priority and this study will add to the literature on how institutions can target formerly well-performing high school students but begin to perform poorly once matriculated as early as possible.