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First Generation College Students

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  1. First Generation College Students Navigating the Worlds of School and Home Elizabeth Buffy Stoll, Miami University

  2. *Disclaimers* • Nerdiness abounds – lets jump into the theory pool! • Research breeds questions, not solutions • This is a project in progress. Your ideas & questions are welcome (both during and after the presentation)

  3. Introductions • In what capacities do you work with first-generation students? and/or… • What brings you to this workshop?

  4. First Generation College Students: What do we know? • Lower persistence • Lower SES background • Less involved on campus • More likely to be students of color • More likely to be nontraditional age • More likely to attend community college • Increasing in number • Lots of quantitative studies (Davis, 2010; Engle & Tinto, 2008; Ishitani, 2003; Jehangir, 2010)

  5. Why does this matter?

  6. Researcher as Instrument: My Context • Not a first-generation student • Not much in common with parents’ college experience • Natural growth childhood (Lareau, 2010) • Crossing boundaries • Interested in transitions of first-gen students & tension between home & school

  7. My Study • Constructive-critical theoretical perspective • Narrative inquiry methodology • First-gen students beyond their first year (success stories!) • Have experienced tension between home and school

  8. Beacons of Light • Pizzolato, 2003. First-gen students may have more self-authored ways of knowing • Stephens et al., 2012. Independent vs. Interdependent modes of operation/inspiration for attending college (Why aren’t there more of these?)

  9. Existing Support

  10. Is Assimilation the Answer? • Tinto’s retention model (1993) • “Breaking Away” describing progression within vs. across cultures

  11. Salient Connection to Home • Culturally - more important to maintain connections when home/school significantly different - avoid “homelessness” • Technology changes opportunities for connectedness since Tinto (1993) • Interdependence & “breaking away” don’t fit

  12. Here’s what I’m wondering… • Would a more gradual “shifting away,” infused with some validation theory be an alternative to “breaking away”? • Why don’t we talk more about Rendon’s (1994) Validation Theory? (External confirmation of internal capacities) • How can we recognize the (possible) internal resources (e.g., self-authored ways of knowing) that FG students may already have? • How would our institutions have to change in order for FG students to become comfortable in college without abandoning relationships/values from home? • Can family/home influences be a liability at least sometimes? (I think yes.) How can we lessen/minimize that negative impact?

  13. My Next Steps • Turn in comps. Celebrate. • Recruit/talk with participants. Narrative inquiry approach relies on contexts & connection for meaning, where categorization can inspire disjunction.

  14. Your Next Steps • Discuss – do these ideas resonate with you? • Read – Validation Theory, Tinto’s Model, Cultural critics of Tinto’s Model • Talk – to your FG students • Apply – this theoretical approach to future thinking/development of programs IF it fits for your campus/your students

  15. References Davis, J. (2010). The first-generation student experience: Implications for campus practice, and strategies for improving persistence and success. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. Engle, J., & Tinto, V. (2008). Moving beyond access: College success for low-income, first-generation students. Washington, DC: The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. Enrollment Management Journal (2011). Vol. 5, Issue 2. (entire issue is about Validation Theory) Guiffrida, D. A. (2006). Toward a cultural advancement of Tinto’s theory. The Review of Higher Education, 29(4), 451-472.

  16. References Ishitani, T. T. (2003). A longitudinal approach to assessing attrition behavior among first-generation students: Time-varying effects of pre-college characteristics. Research in Higher Education. 44(4), 433-449. Jehangir, R.R. (2010). Higher education and first-generation students: Cultivating community, voice, and place for the new majority. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan. Lareau, A. (2003). Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life. Los Angeles: University of California Press. Pizzolato, J. E. (2004). Coping with conflict: Self-authorship, coping, and adaptation to college in first-year, high-risk students. Journal of College Student Development, 45(4), 425-442.

  17. References Stephens, N. M., Fryberg, S. A., Markus, H. R., Johnson, C. S., & Covarrubias, R. (2012). Unseen Disadvantage: How American Universities' Focus on Independence Undermines the Academic Performance of First-Generation College Students. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(6), 1178-1197. Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. Winkle-Wagner, R. (2009). The perpetual homelessness of college experiences: Tensions between home and campus for African American women. The Review of Higher Education, 33(1), 1-36.