The purpose of this study was to explore similarities and differences among low-income and first-generation (LIFG) students' perceptions of influential academic, psychosocial, and contextual factors that shaped their persistence at different stages at the postsecondary level. This study consisted of 29 LIFG students from a large, urban research university in the Midwest who had not declared a major, had declared a major, and had graduated. Student academic data were analyzed quantitatively to supplement information regarding the postsecondary experience and indicated significant group differences in high school performance, high school ability, and college performance. A qualitative interview approach explored influential psychosocial and contextual factors through data gathered from semi-structured interviews. Several themes emerged: high academic expectations held by students, commitment to college to attain career/degree goals, belief that ability could change with effort, problem-solving skills, and high postsecondary expectations held by both their high school staff and parents. Common factors between groups and factors that were unique to each group also emerged and are discussed. In addition, the importance of understanding students' background, perceptions of low academic self-efficacy and lack of college knowledge permeated throughout the student responses. Nevertheless, LIFG students expressed a willingness to work hard, and often, a need to invest more time and effort than their higher socioeconomic status peers. Merits and limitations, implications for research, practice, and policy and directions for future research are discussed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. March 2014. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisor: Sandra Christenson. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 203 pages.
Ganuza Hoaglund, Zoila M..
A continuum of persistence: low-income and first-generation college students' Perceptions of critical factors for postsecondary success.
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