Emma Toth Defends MST Thesis on Undergraduate Education

Master of Science in Teaching student Emma Toth defended her thesis, titled “The High School to First Year College Transition: An Investigation of the Predictions and Perceptions of STEM Students” in December, 2018. Her thesis research included developing, testing, and revising a survey administered at the start and end of two semesters. At the start of each semester, first-year students were asked about their predictions for the types of instruction they would receive in a specific course. In the middle of each semester, students were asked about the instruction they were receiving in the course. Predictions and perceptions were compared across courses and across subgroups of the student population, with a particular focus on first-generation college students. Perceptions were also compared with course observations that were conducted throughout the semesters. Findings showed that students tended to predict less lecture than they experienced in their college courses and that differences between predictions and the instruction that was provided were more pronounced for first-generation college students. This discrepancy between expectations and the instruction students received may help explain high rates of student attrition between the first and second year of college education. One of Toth’s recommendations based on her findings was that instructors increase their uses of active learning strategies to better match their students’ expectations, and especially the expectations of first-generation college students. For more information about MST Student Research, click here.