The four-year experience of first-generation students at a small independent university : engagement, student learning, and satisfaction.
Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education
Petrosko, Joseph M., 1947-
First-generation college student; Small private institution; Learning; Satisfaction; Engagement; Four-year experience
College students; College attendance; Educational attainment; Prediction of scholastic success
This dissertation explored the four-year college experience of first-generation and continuing-generation students at a small private institution. Using Astin's I-E-O model (1970), the following variables in the student experience were considered: precollege student characteristics (input); engagement in academic experiences, cocurricular activities, campus relationships (environment); and satisfaction, learning (outcome). The sample consisted of seniors participating in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and/or a direct measure of general education learning, the ETS Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress. Results of the analysis of learning indicated no difference in first-generation and continuing-generation students' measures (n = 342). One exception was found in a subsequent model built which excluded students who did not submit a FAFSA (less financially needy students); first-generation status was a positive predictor of learning (ß=.25). No precollege characteristics (input) or engagement variables (environment) were associated with learning (outcome), other than aptitude ACT composite (ß =.66, n = 39). Regarding satisfaction, no significant difference existed in senior measures between first-generation and continuing-generation students after controlling for aptitude (p < .05). When considering the environmental variables which influence satisfaction, campus relationships were strong positive predictors of satisfaction (n = 175). These environment variables were calculated from NSSE Pike "scalelets," four of which were significant (p < .05): quality of campus relationships/interpersonal environment (ß =.59); varied education experience (ß = -.18); support for student success (ß =.17); and higher order thinking skills (ß =.14). No precollege characteristics significantly influenced satisfaction. In comparing the overall college experience, the difference in the student groups was limited to only a few variables, none of which influenced learning or satisfaction. First-generation students rated lower the quality of their campus relationships and the support they received for success (p < .05). First-generation students typically worked more hours for pay, commuted to campus, and had greater financial need. The results of this single institution study did not support previous literature showing first-generation students high-risk, a characteristic which can influence retention, satisfaction, and learning. The most significant finding from this project was the positive influence of campus relationships on seniors' satisfaction, regardless of parents' education level.
Mahan, David M., "The four-year experience of first-generation students at a small independent university : engagement, student learning, and satisfaction." (2010). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 886.