Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution recently wrote about a new paper by Ralph Stinebrickner and Todd R. Stinebrickner titled "A Major in Science? Initial Beliefs and Final Outcomes for College Major and Dropout."

The authors' main conclusion?

"We find that students enter school quite optimistic/interested about obtaining a science degree, but that relatively few students end up graduating with a science degree. The substantial overoptimism about completing a degree in science can be attributed largely to students beginning school with misperceptions about their ability to perform well academically in science."

As I have discussed in my article How Brainy Is Your Major as well as in my research, individuals who major and complete a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) tend to have the highest ablity levels compared to all other groups, as can be seen in the figure below. 

Why do you think STEM majors require the highest cognitive abilities?  Why do so many students have misperceptions about their ability to complete a STEM major?  And what do you think we can do to encourage individuals to major in STEM while simultaneously ensuring they do not have misperceptions about their ability to perform well?

© 2013 by Jonathan Wai

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