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Predicting Transition and Adjustment to College: Minority Biomedical and Behavioral Science Students’ First Year of College. Sylvia Hurtado, June C. Chang, Victor B. Saenz, Lorelle L. Espinosa, Nolan L. Cabrera, & Oscar S. Cerna. University of California – Los Angeles

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Predicting Transition and Adjustment to College: Minority Biomedical and Behavioral Science Students’ First Year of College

Sylvia Hurtado, June C. Chang, Victor B. Saenz, Lorelle L. Espinosa, Nolan L. Cabrera, & Oscar S. Cerna

University of California – Los Angeles

Higher Education Research Institute

AIR 2006 – Chicago, IL

trends
Trends
  • Demographic shift: Increasing number of college-age students from historically underrepresented backgrounds.
    • URM: African Americans, Latina/os, American Indian/Native Alaskan
  • Increasing number of college freshmen showing interest in biomedical and behavioral science majors (CIRP, 2004).
  • More incoming freshmen report interest in research careers (CIRP, 2004).
issues
Issues
  • Racial/ethnic minorities remain underrepresented in a multiplicity of fields and disciplines, especially in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.
  • They have among the lowest levels of matriculation in these critical fields and even lower rates of representation in research science careers (NSF, 2003).
  • Goal: Continue to diversify the pool of research scientists and to increase research in fields that will ultimately improve the health and well-being of underserved communities.
research questions
Research Questions
  • What are the informal and institutional practices that are key factors to URM science students’ success at managing their academic environment during the first year of college?
  • What are the critical contributors and detractors for URM science student sense of belonging?
conceptual model guiding study

College Entry

Social and Academic First Year Experiences

First Year Outcomes

Multi-InstitutionalCharacteristics

Psychological Sense of Integration:

Success in Managing the Academic Environment

Sense of belonging at the institution

Academic Development and Performance

Student Background

Campus Structures that Link the Social and Academic Systems (specific programs, memberships, courses, advising)

Financial Concerns

Peer Racial/Dynamics:

Quality of cross-racial friendships

Racial Climate

Competitive Climate

Pre-college Academic Achievement

Family as External Push or Pull Factor

Conceptual Model Guiding Study

Note: Model adapted from Nora (2001).

data and sample
Data and Sample
  • Data source:
    • HERI’s 2004 Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s (CIRP) Freshman Survey
    • YCFY administered at the end of the freshman year, resulting in over 26,000 students at 203 four-year institutions who completed both surveys.
    • Weighted to correct for non-response bias
    • Missing value analysis
  • Sample:
    • 5,049 students selected in three categories:
      • URMs science majors
      • White/ Asian science majors
      • URM non-science majors
academic adjustment success in managing academic environment
Academic Adjustment: Success in Managing Academic Environment
  • Constructed by self-assessment of the following (alpha = .78):
    • Understanding what your professors expect of you academically
    • Developing effective study skills
    • Adjusting to the academic demands of college
    • Managing your time effectively
    • Getting to know faculty
  • Three-point scale: 1=unsuccessful to 3=completely successful
sense of belonging at end of 1 st year
Sense of Belonging (at end of 1st year)
  • Constructed by assessing agreement with the following (alpha = .84):
    • I see myself as part of the campus community
    • I feel I am a member of this college
    • I feel I have a sense of belonging to this college
  • Three-point scale: 1=strongly disagree to 4=strongly agree
analysis
Analysis
  • Basic Descriptives
  • Comparison of means on outcomes and key variables (ANOVA & Scheffe’s post-hoc test) for within and between group differences
  • Series of blocked linear regression analyses of each dependent variable for each of the following categories:
    • URM science majors
    • White/ Asian science majors
    • URM non-science majors
implications
Implications

More inclusive indicators are needed in studying adjustment and integration models:

  • Family support is important but unusual responsibilities detract from adjustment and sense of belonging
  • Burden of financial concerns is more important to science students
  • Studying the climate and improving intergroup relations is important for campuses achieving both diversity and excellence
  • Combining CIRP and YFCY captures predisposition and transition and adjustment experiences
for more information on the project and copies of the paper http www gseis ucla edu heri nih

For more information on the project and copies of the paperhttp://www.gseis.ucla.edu/heri/nih

This study was made possible by the support of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH Grant Number 1 RO1 GMO71968-01. This independent research and the views expressed here do not indicate endorsement by the sponsor.