A continuing challenge to student persistence in STEM degree programs is low success rates prevalent in the so-called gatekeeper classes. College physics and mathematics courses are generally required in the plans of study of STEM students who are non-majors in these subject areas. It is worth investigating some of the affective states of students that underline their expectancy and the value of such educational activities.
For example, the desire to belong is a fundamental human need that impacts several areas of human functioning. Current research suggests that a sense of belonging among students is positively associated with a host of outcomes such as psychological well-being, motivation, engagement, and scholastic achievement. Goal orientation, interest, and achievement values are said to concern the purposes individuals have for doing activities. Expectancy and value factors are influenced by task-specific beliefs such as perceptions of competence, perceptions of the difficulty of different tasks, and individuals' goals, along with their affective memories for different achievement-related events.
Therefore, what may be key to understanding and promoting student achievement is to learn more about the interaction among these factors. Also important are cultural considerations regarding the way belonging and task value are experienced and expressed among students of color. This study will investigate ways to structure STEM learning environments to influence affective states such as expectancy, value, and belonging in STEM, specific to students taking gate-keeping science and mathematics courses at a Historically Black College/University (HBCU).