Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 3837-3844
ISBN: 978-84-09-37758-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2022.1058
Conference name: 16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-8 March, 2022
Location: Online Conference
Different studies are conducted to examine the factors that affect the academic performance of college students. Previous research agreed that several family factors exercise a significant influence on adolescent academic achievement (e.g., Garg, Kauppi, Lewko, & Urjnik, 2002; Garg, Melanson, & Levin, 2007; Sánchez, Reyes, & Singh, 2006; Teachman; Paasch, 1998). These prominent factors include parental employment, educational level, socioeconomic status, family composition, parental involvement, peer and teacher influence, and adolescent self-efficacy. Specifically, socioeconomic factors such as family socioeconomic level and mother as well as father education are involved in undergraduate student performance (Shaheen & Awan, 2020; Gooding, 2001; Raychauduri et al., 2010).

Similarly, there is also numerous studies on the factors that influence the choice of the field of study (Hemsley-Brown & Oplatka, 2015; Vaarmets, 2018; Gokuladas, 2010; David & Guppy, 1997). Gender and socio-economic family background were two of the most salient factors. Previous research (e.g., Soto, Agut & Agost, 2019) demonstrated the horizontal segregation of the Pyrenees-Mediterranean universities (Catalonia, Valencian Region and Balearic Islands), both at the level of gender and family socioeconomic level. Findings suggested that lower socioeconomic family background students are majority in Humanities and Social and Legal Sciences, and they are significantly underrepresented especially in Health and Engineering. Also, women are underrepresented in Experimental Science and Engineering (Soto, Agut & Agost, 2019b). Different reasons could be discussed about the reason of this segregation: parental education and incomes, gender stereotypes, etc.

The present study goes one-step further to try to determine the influence of parents’ educational level, and specifically of the mother, in the choice of studies (STEM / Non-STEM domain). As well as whether the educational level of the mother within any of the two groups (STEM students / non-STEM students) influences the academic results of the students, measured through the average grade of the academic record at university. In this study participated a total of 4929 undergraduate students from public universities in Catalonia, Valencian Region and Balearic Islands. They were asked about access, learning conditions, expectations, and returns for university studies in the frame of Via Universitària Survey (Xarxa Vives d’Universitats, 2018). In particular, we tested the hypothesis that the higher the educational level of the mothers, the greater the probability of choosing studies within the STEM field. In addition, we argued that the educational level of the mothers will have a direct influence on the results of the studies for both STEM and Non-STEM students; that is, the higher the mothers’ educational level, the higher the average grade of the students’ university academic record.

The main findings confirm the first of the hypotheses, while only partially the second of them.

The implication of the results for future research guidelines are also discussed.
Gender, educational level, horizontal segregation, performance, undergraduated students, higher education, STEM.