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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Role of Faculty and Peer Interactions in Supporting Humanities Students’ Persistence and Post-Graduation Aspirations: A Case Study

  • Author(s): Tsang, Tiffany Lee
  • et al.

This study examines the experiences of undergraduate humanities students in the context of increasing social and educational emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and pre-professional areas of study (e.g., business administration, management, nursing). More specifically this article explores the ways in which humanities students’ interactions with departmental faculty members and peers support their persistence in their majors as well as their post-graduation goals. The persistence and post-graduation goals of humanities students is seen as particularly important given the deprioritization of the humanities by higher education institutions in recent decades as well as the questioned relevance of humanities education to post-graduation employment. Findings obtained from in-depth interviews as well as participant observation focus on the role of faculty accessibility, students’ sharing of information with one another, and students’ bonding over shared experiences in supporting humanities students’ persistence and post-graduation aspirations. Findings also point to the ways in which humanities students have experienced marginalization in various contexts and also how they have resisted narratives they are exposed to that are disparaging towards their areas of study.

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