Self-efficacy, stress, and acculturation as predictors of first year science success among Latinos at a South Texas university


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"A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership."
The study tested the hypothesis that self-efficacy, stress, and acculturation are useful predictors of academic achievement in first year university science, independent of high school GPA and SAT scores, in a sample of Latino students at a South Texas Hispanic serving institution of higher education. The correlational study employed a mixed methods explanatory sequential model. The non-probability sample consisted of 98 university science and engineering students. The study participants had high science self-efficacy, low number of stressors, and were slightly Anglo-oriented bicultural to strongly Anglo-oriented. As expected, the control variables of SAT score and high school GPA were statistically significant predictors of the outcome measures. Together, they accounted for 19.80% of the variation in first year GPA, 13.80% of the variation in earned credit hours, and 11.30% of the variation in intent to remain in the science major. After controlling for SAT scores and high school GPAs, self-efficacy was a statistically significant predictor of credit hours earned and accounted for 5.60% of the variation; its unique contribution in explaining the variation in first year GPA and intent to remain in the science major was not statistically significant. Stress and acculturation were not statistically significant predictors of any of the outcome measures. Analysis of the qualitative data resulted in six themes (a) high science self-efficacy, (b) stressors, (c) positive role of stress, (d) Anglo-oriented, (e) bicultural, and (f) family. The quantitative and qualitative results were synthesized and practical implications were discussed.
Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education and Human Development