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Date of Award

Spring 4-22-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS)


Biomedical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Zachary Saylor


By 2032, STEM occupations are expected to increase by 10.8% while non-STEM occupations are projected to increase only by 2.3%. However, STEM recruiters and employers struggle to adequately fill STEM positions and retain employees, despite workforce availability, leading to a gap in the STEM workforce. This gap has been exacerbated by a plethora of issues such as: student self-perceptions (science identity, self-efficacy, and sense of belonging), systemic biases, and a lack of career readiness. Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) suggests ones’ career choices come from interactions between multiple elements, including environmental, behavioral, and personal factors, and provides a valuable lens to dissect parameters that contribute to filling the STEM workforce gap. By adopting the SCCT framework to examine these factors, helpful remedies can be discovered like implementing undergraduate research experiences and active learning curriculum. In this thesis we explore the recent literature addressing the underlying causes, symptoms, and potential remediations of these disparities by examining the current pedagogical approaches in postsecondary education, with special attention to STEM engagement, retention, and career intent, to forecast students’ behavior in relation to pursuing STEM related careers.