Many Definitions of “At Risk” • Ethnic minorities • Academically disadvantaged • Disabilities • Low socioeconomic status • Probationary students (Heisserer & Parette, 2002)
First-Generation… Another “At Risk” • First-generation college students: • Felt less prepared for college • Worried more about financial aid • Feared failing in college more than did the students whose parents had at least a bachelor's degree • Reported knowing less about the social environment at the university than did the other students (York-Anderson & Bowman, 1991, found this as well) • Felt had to put more time into studying than other students (Bui, 2002)
Clarification of “At Risk” Students • A literature review by Bulger and Watson suggests to broaden the definition of “at risk” students
“At Risk” Not a Dirty Phrase • “At risk,” not just race and class • Limitations or obstacles to learning • The higher education literature’s definition: • “…are poorly equipped to perform up to academic standards.” (Quinnan, 1997, 31)
Categories of Defining “At Risk” Students • Three Categories of Definition for the “At Risk” Students: • Background characteristics • Internal characteristics • Environmental characteristics • Up and coming literature on lack of technology skills • Most often, students fall into several categories of the definition.
Background and Characteristics • Academically underprepared • Have unrealistic goals based on desire for instant gratification • Chen and Kaufman (1997) identified six risk factors: • - low socio-economic status • - from a single parent family • - an older sibling dropped out of school • - the students themselves changed schools two or more times • - had average grades of "C" or lower from sixth to eighth grade • - repeated a grade.
Background and Characteristics • Research indicates identified “at risk” in high school continue to be “at risk” upon entry to post-secondary institutions • By 10th grade students less likely to aspire to attend college • Less likely to be academically prepared • Less likely to take entrance exams • If completed entrance exams, less likely to apply to four-year colleges (Community Colleges)
Background and Characteristics • Postsecondary at-risk students less likely to exhibit behaviors consistent with persistence. • Persistence indicators: • Completion of “gatekeeping” or remediation courses • Seeking assistance with college application processes • Exhibiting a significant level of involvement with their peers and parents
Lack of Technology Skills • Parker (1999), Giles (1999), and Osborn (2001), Muse (2003) conducted a study of 1,028 students • Concluded technology issues contributed to the dropout of online students • Five factors related to student success: • grade point average, study environment, age group, last college course, and background preparation
Internal Characteristics • Roueche and Roueche (1993) describe at-risk students not only academically underprepared for college, but also have weak self-concept • Disbelief in his or her ability may lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure • Seligman (1975) resulted in term “learned helplessness:” • Extreme external locus of control and belief that they have no influence over their own destiny, resulting in lack of confidence and diminished autonomy
Environmental Characteristics • Bowl (2001) cites the role of student services as an environmental factor. In a Perceptions of Student Services survey, students reported that they did not understand what advice and support was offered by advisors.
Environmental Characteristics • Report by the Learning Skills Council (2004) found adult learners identified impediments academic success: • High travel times and costs, limited course offerings, facilities accommodations, educational resources, and lack of community partners to support learning opportunities such as field placements and internships
Conclusion of Risk Factors • Internal locus of control • Persistence of students • Social integration • Absence of positive social integration leads to negative outcomes including isolation and attrition.
Helping ALL Of Our Students • Contact with significant person within an institution of higher education is a crucial factor in a student’s decision to remain in college (Chickering & Gamson, 1987; Glennen, Farren, & Vowell, 1996).
Helping ALL Of Our Students McKendree Academic Support Center • Individual tutoring • Study Groups • Help with study strategies • Academic counseling and support • Coordinate accommodations for students with disabilities • Academic support for athletes and all students
McKendree Firsts First-Generation Students ~Some of McKendree’s Finest~
McKendree Firsts • Significant increase in first-generation students across the United States • Growing population at McKendree---higher increase here than national average • New program: First-Generation Student Success
McKendree Firsts National Stats McKendree Stats • Nationally, 30% of entering freshmen are first-generation. • Of the 30% (nationally), 89% will leave WITHOUT a degree within a 6 year period. • 1st Gens are 4X more likely to fail or quit. • At McKendree, this number was 44% in 2009. • Overall retention percentage at McKendree has remained in the mid-high 70th percentile. • Beginning to track 1st Gens this year.
What’s the difference between first-gen and non-first-gens students? • Non-first-generation students are used to having and using what they need to achieve. First-generation students often avoid asking for help because they think they don’t belong here (“imposter phenomenon”). • We must teach first-generation students to utilize resources.
Who are McKendree Firsts? • McKendree students whose parents have not graduated from a four-year institution • Nearly half of your students (ask them on that first day of class) • Many of your colleagues (ask them too)
Characteristics of First-Gens • Usually self-motivated and overly self-sufficient • Often feel like “imposters” • Do not understand the support systems in place at McKendree • Frequently work while attending school
Characteristics of First Gens • Usually emotionally very close with family members • Often strong desire to make family proud • Some family members are very supportive • Sometimes family members may be non-supportive and even obstructive
Characteristics of First Gens • May be traditional or non-traditional • Often do NOT understand the language of higher education (Dean’s List, Apply vs. Register, FAFSA) • Frequently do not know how to access money to finance education (“College is for rich people”) • Often are not academically prepared for college • Have no “Plan B” when car breaks down or daycare is closed
How can you help these students? • Open discussion about First-Generation; directly address the imposter phenomenon • Assertive Advising • Build a relationship by explicitly inviting students • Encourage involvement in McKendree community • Refer students to First-Generation Student Success office • Encourage group study, tutoring, office hour visits
How can you help these students? • Learn more: Firstinthefamily.org
McKendree’s Students • Students who are frequently missing class • Students who are not engaged in class • Students who do not submit any work • Students who are doing poorly and are not seeking help and not accepting help that is offered • Students who do not have supplies including books for the class • Students who are not adjusting to college life and the work that it takes to succeed • Students who do not understand their advising session, web advisor or the entire process
What do I do??? • If you are concerned, refer them early and often. • Submit your rosters to the Office of Academic Records promptly, and submit your mid-term grades on time. • You do not have to wait for the Records Office to notify me of problems that are reported with the roster or mid-term grades. • Be open and honest with the students about your concerns. • You are the first line of defense; make sure that you are communicating with the students as well.
Points to remember…. • Refer early and as often as necessary. • You can refer any student to any one of us, and we will get them the help that they need. • If you are not for sure how to handle a situation, you can come and talk to us, and we will help you. • Jennifer Miller – 6572 email@example.com • Clarissa Melvin – 6850 CBMelvin@mckendree.edu • Lisa Brennan – 2150 firstname.lastname@example.org