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A Guide to the Research: STEM

Presents research literature and other sources of information about first generation college students, focusing on four-year undergraduate and graduate school experiences.

Recent Additions

Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)

* Arburn, Theresa M. and Lowell J. Bethel. Assisting At-Risk Community College Students: Acquisition of Critical Thinking Learning Strategies. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (Boston, MA, March 28-31, 1999).
Community college students may be at-risk academically, socioeconomically, or because they are first-generation attendees. Recognizing the need for a strong support system, a study was conducted to determine whether students could be taught to incorporate information processing strategies into their personal inventory of strategies. It was anticipated that learning strategies within the context of a prerequisite course could improve academic performance and increase the incidence of critical thinking skills, thereby assisting students in the pursuit of a professional career or higher academic degree. In a one semester, quasi-experimental study, Human Anatomy and Physiology students were divided into control and experimental groups. The experimental group participated in the use of a student-generated questioning technique in conjunction with lecture presentations, while the control group did not. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) revealed no significant differences with regard to overall achievement, the ability to process information, or the demonstration of critical thinking. Members of the experimental group did, however, exhibit a change in their ability to select main ideas, apply deductive reasoning, and use inference.

* Berrett, Dan and Libby Sander, Many Students Don't Practive Vital Quantitative Skills in Class, Survey Finds, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 14, 2013.
A report on the National Survey of Student Engagement. Includes information on the smaller percentage of first-generation students in STEM majors.
* Conrad, Sarah, Silvia Sara Canetto, David MacPhee and Samantha Farro. What Attracts High-Achieving Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Students to the Physical Sciences and Engineering? College Student Journal, vol. 43, issue 4 (Dec 2009), pp. 1359-1369.
Socioeconomically disadvantaged (SED) students are less likely to major in physical sciences or engineering. To guide recruitment and retention of a diversity of talent, this study examined what attracts high-achieving SED students to these fields. Participants were 50 undergraduates majoring in physical sciences or engineering enrolled in the McNair mentoring program. Ninety-two percent were first-generation in college and/or low-income; 56% were female, 40% Hispanic, and 36% White. This group of SED students mostly explained their attraction to physical sciences or engineering in terms of scientific curiosity and a passion for research. They also reported being excited about the possibility to use their science and engineering education for social purposes. Securing a good job emerged as another important motivator, particularly for male and ethnic minority respondents. These findings suggest common as well as unique reasons for majoring in physical sciences or engineering among a diversity of SED students. 
* Cowan Pitre, Charisse and Paul Pitre, Increasing Underrepresented High School Students' College Transitions and Achievements: TRIO Educational Opportunity ProgramsNASSP Bulletin, vol. 93, issue 2 (2009), pp. 96-110.
Governmental TRIO Programs remain one proven pathway for ensuring college preparedness and access for all students. Research reviewed in this article suggests TRIO educational opportunity programs have been successful in increasing both the higher education attendance rates and educational attainment of students from low-income, first-generation college, and underrepresented ethnic minority backgrounds. Given the increasing political debate and the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling against voluntary school desegregation, TRIO Programs are now more critical than ever for extending higher educational opportunities to students from diverse social and economic backgrounds. Furthermore, these programs may provide a model for P-12 school leaders, individual institutions, and all education professionals interested in widening access to higher education for all of our country's citizens.
* Curtin, Thomas R. and Margaret W. Cahalan. A Profile of the Upward Bound Math-Science Program: 2000-2001. U.S. Department of Education, 2004. 92 pp.
The U.S. Department of Education's Strategic Plan 2002-2007 (2002) established an objective to "reduce the gaps in college access and completion among student populations differing by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and disability while increasing the educational attainment of all." Upward Bound, which made its first awards in 1965, has always sought to increase the academic performance and motivation of low-income youths and potentially first-generation college students enrolled in high school, so that these students may complete secondary school and successfully pursue postsecondary education programs. In 1990, the Department created the Upward Bound Math-Science (UBMS) program with the specific goal to help low-income, first-generation college students recognize and develop their potential to excel in math and science and encourage them to pursue postsecondary degrees and careers in these fields. The UBMS Program thus addresses two important national goals: (1) to foster increased math and science educational participation to prepare a U.S. work force able to address the scientific and technological issues and problems of the 21st century; and (2) to increase the representation within the math and science fields of persons from low-income and minority backgrounds, and of persons who are in their families' first generation to obtain bachelor's degrees. This report provides a comprehensive profile of the UBMS Program using individual student-level information for UBMS participants served in 1999-2000 and 2000-01. (Contains 18 footnotes, 42 tables, and 26 figures. Appended are the following: (1) Upward Bound Math-Science Performance Reporting: Methods and Data Quality for the First Year; and (2) Glossary.)
* Douglass, John Aubrey and Gregg Thomson, The Poor and the Rich: A Look at Economic Stratification and Academic Performance among Undergraduate Students in the United States, Center for Studies in Higher Education, 2008. 20 pp. 
This paper explores the divide between poor and rich students, first comparing a group of selective US institutions and their number and percentage of Pell Grant recipients and then, using institutional data and results from the University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES), presenting an analysis of the high percentage of low-income undergraduate students within the University of California system--who they are, their academic performance and quality of their undergraduate experience. One out of three Pell Grant recipients at UC have at least one parent with a four-year college degree, calling into question the assumption that "low-income" and "first-generation" are interchangeable groups of students. Low-income students, and in particular Pell Grant recipients, at UC have only slightly lower GPAs than their more wealthy counterparts in both math, science and engineering, and in humanities and social science fields.

* Flores, Ramon. Attributes and characteristics of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) high school program for first-generation Latino students. Pepperdine University, 2007.
This study used a web-based survey collected data from 28 first-generation Latino engineers who participated in the Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) program during their high school years. From the set of 28 respondents, 5 volunteered to participate in an optional telephone interview. The purpose of this study was to describe the critical attributes and characteristics of the MESA program that lead to success at both the high school and college levels for first-generation Latino students. Success at the high school level was operationally defined as successfully graduating with a high school diploma. Success at the college level was operationally defined here as college graduation with an engineering degree. Using a mixed-methods technique, the researcher attempted to secure consensus of opinion from a sample population of 28 first-generation Latino engineers. The mixed-methods technique was chosen since it allowed the researcher to draw on the strengths of quantitative and qualitative approaches. According to the findings, the typical respondent felt that mentoring was the attribute of the MESA program that most prepared him to graduate from high school. The respondents felt that the following MESA attributes most helped them transition into an undergraduate engineering program: Academic and University Advising; Enrichment Activities; Career Advising; Field Trips; Mentoring; Scholarship Incentive Awards; and Speakers. The respondents viewed study groups as the MESA attribute that best prepared them to graduate college with an engineering degree. This study was purposefully designed as a descriptive study. Future research is required to extend this work into an evaluative study. This would allow for the generalization of the critical attributes to the general student population serviced by the MESA program.

* Fostering Success among Traditionally Underrepresented Student Groups: Hartnell College's Approach to Implementation of the Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (Mesa) Program. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, vol. 28, issue 1 (Jan 2004), pp. 17-26. Available in the Education Library.
Hartnell College is an accredited California Community College serving Salinas and the Salinas Valley, a vast 1,000 square mile agricultural region. The district is characterized by large numbers of migrant workers and their families, chronically high unemployment, high rates of poverty, and low educational attainment. Hartnell's 10,000 students are 67% minority, 52% Latino/a, and 82% first generation college students. Nearly 41% of the College's students are nonnative English speakers. Hartnell's Latino students face serious obstacles to postsecondary success, and far too few Latinos enroll and succeed in mathematics, science, and technology fields. Through Hartnell's MESA program, enrollment in many math and science courses have increased. More significantly, data suggests that students participating in MESA Academic Excellence Workshops have averaged a full grade increase as compared to similar students not participating in the workshops. Hartnell College's MESA program is on a static budget, and the college has expanded and leveraged program services by linking it to several on- and off-campus outreach and student support services programs. Hartnell College won the 2003 Bellwether Award in the Planning, Governance, and Finance category in recognition of this effort.
* Gardea, Jessica, et al, From Folklore to Molecular Pharmacophores: Cultivating STEM Students among Young, First-Generation Female Mexican-Americans, Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 88, issue 1 (Jan. 2011), pp. 41–43.
The Research and Engineering Apprenticeship Program of the Academy of Applied Science has funded several high school student summer internships to work within the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas at El Paso. Over the last nine years, young Mexican-American scholars have been recruited into STEM-specific (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) laboratories to cultivate and nurture their interest in research. This commentary describes vignettes from a successful program in which coauthoring students are paired with a graduate student to advance a molecular-level understanding of biomedical intervention by traditional phytoremedials (plant-based remedies) in neurodegenerative disease processes. Considering that the selected phytoremedials originate from Mexico, Latin America, and the Indian subcontinent and are familiar folklore (kitchen theraceuticals) to the participating Hispanic and Indian scholars, the research project provides an enhanced sense of importance, ownership, and enthusiasm. Eventually, it cements the bridge to a future STEM-related college education, engages in the nation’s STEM capacity-building mission, and contributes to the nation’s Hispanic science and technology workforce of tomorrow.
* Gasbarra, Paul and Jean Johnson. Out before the Game Begins: Hispanic Leaders Talk about What's Needed to Bring More Hispanic Youngsters into Science, Technology and Math Professions. Public Agenda, America's Competitiveness: Hispanic Participation in Technology Careers Summit (Palisades, NY, May 5-6, 2008).
Hispanics are one of the largest and fastest-growing minority groups in the United States. Projections indicate a need for an increase of 20% of practicing engineers by 2010. Despite the growing number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers in the American economy, education statistics suggest that too few Hispanic students are being encouraged and equipped to take advantage of opportunities in technical disciplines. American business and industry and the nation's Hispanic communities would both benefit from addressing this mismatch. In summer 2007, the IBM International Foundation asked Public Agenda to interview Hispanic and Latino leaders in a variety of fields, asking for their views on what will be needed to bring more Hispanic students into the technical and scientific disciplines. This report is based on 19 30-minute telephone interviews conducted in the summer and fall of 2007. Public Agenda spoke with Hispanic scientists and inventors, officers at technology corporations, leaders from prominent non-profit and corporate entities, as well as government and educational institutions. Each interviewee had a strong interest in Hispanic and Latino affairs and was able to speak on the challenges of improving math and science education for Hispanic students. Primary observations included: (1) Socio-economic conditions of many Hispanics. Most saw poverty and poor schools as a primary, first-order-of-business barrier; (2) Schools in poorer urban areas with a high concentration of Hispanics tend to have a lower quality of education, poor bilingual education programs, high dropout rates and inadequate curricula; (3) Potential jeopardies to learning such as illegal immigration that may undercut a child's ability to learn, even when they do have access to better schools with better teachers and courses; (4) Barriers caused by need to master academics in a non-native language, and an associated high drop-out rate; (5) Specific failures in the way math and science are taught, on top of the over-arching educational failures; (6) Need for more Hispanic role models in the STEM fields; (7) Traditional gender roles continue to discourage young Hispanic women from pursuing careers of their own, particularly in STEM fields; (8) Limited parental educational attainment and traditional conceptions of the school's role in childhood development can have a variety of effects on the success of education; (9) Obstacles to college caused by poor preparation and/or lack of financial resources; and (10) Need for strong mentorship, faculty support and study groups to mitigate pressures on first-generation college students. All of the scientists and business people, government officials, community organizers and advocates voiced enthusiasm for the goal of bringing many more Hispanic and Latino youngsters into the scientific and technical disciplines. But many also pointed to a long road ahead. A list of interviewees is included.

* Horn, Laura and Larry Bobbitt. Mapping the Road to College: First-Generation Students' Math Track, Planning Strategies, and Context of Support. Statistical Analysis Report. Postsecondary Education Descriptive Analysis Reports, 2000. 104 pp.
This publication compares first-generation students (i.e., those whose parents have no more than a high school education) with their peers whose parent or parents attended college. It focuses on mathematics course taking--the effectiveness of taking algebra in 8th grade and advanced math courses in high school for subsequent college enrollment--and planning strategies students used to prepare for college. The report also examines the involvement of students' parents, teachers, and other "institutional agents" capable of helping them prepare for college. The results of the study offer both negative and positive findings concerning the experiences of first-generation students. On the negative side, even after controlling for measures of academic achievement, family income, family structure (single versus two parents), and other related characteristics, first-generation students were less likely than their peers to participate in academic programs leading to college enrollment. Consequently, they were much less likely to enroll in college within two years of graduating from high school. The disparity between first-generation students and their peers from families where at least one parent had attained a bachelor's degree was especially notable. On the positive side, regardless of parents' educational attainment, students' achievement, and other related factors, students who completed mathematics programs beyond the level of Algebra 2 substantially increased their chances of enrolling in a 4-year college. In addition, other factors such as parents' participation in college preparation activities and students receiving help from their high school in the application process also increased students' chances of enrolling in college (at any level).
* Jones, Vinetta C. Invited Commentary: Research-based Programs To Close Postsecondary Education GapsEducation Statistics Quarterly, vol. 3, issue 2 (Sum 2001), pp. 17-20.
Findings in "The Condition of Education," published by the National Center for Education Statistics, are corroborated by the work of EQUITY 2000, a research-based program of the College Board and other precollege mathematics and science programs that have been targeting first-generation college students and underrepresented minorities. Such programs have clear benefits for disadvantaged students.

* Kane, Michael A., Chuck Beals, Edward J. Valeau, and M. J. Johnson, Fostering Success among Traditionally Underrepresented Student Groups: Hartnell College's Approach to Implementation of the Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (Mesa) Program, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, vol. 28, issue 1 (Jan 2004), pp. 17-26. Available in the Education Library.
Hartnell College's Latino students face serious obstacles to postsecondary success, and far too few Latinos enroll and succeed in mathematics, science, and technology fields. Through Hartnell's MESA program, enrollment in many math and science courses have increased. More significantly, data suggests that students participating in MESA Academic Excellence Workshops have averaged a full grade increase as compared to similar students not participating in the workshops. Hartnell College's MESA program is on a static budget, and the college has expanded and leveraged program services by linking it to several on- and off-campus outreach and student support services programs.

* Kaufman, Phillip, Lisa Chavez, and Douglas Lauen. Generational Status and Educational Outcomes among Asian and Hispanic 1988 Eighth Graders. National Postsecondary Student Aid Study: 1995-96. Statistical Analysis Report. National Education Longitudinal Study.
The analysis presented in this report examines the relationship between the immigration of "generational" status of Asian and Hispanic students and various educational indicators and outcomes. Data are from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988. Generational status refers to the number of generations the student's family has been in the United States. Students were classified as: (1) first generation immigrant (born outside the United States); (2) second-generation (born in the United States with one or both parents born outside the United States); and (3) third generation or higher (both parents and student born in the United States). Nearly half of the eighth-grade Asian students in 1988 were born outside the United States, compared with about 18% of their Hispanic peers. First-generation students in each racial-ethnic group were more likely to come from families who lived at or below the poverty level than their second- and third-generation counterparts. Similar proportions of both Asian and Hispanic groups were categorized as being limited-English proficient (six and eight percent respectively), but Hispanic students were more likely to come from a home where a language other than English was spoken. Among all eighth graders, Hispanics were more likely than Asians to be below proficiency in mathematics and science, at 25% versus 9% in mathematics and 41% versus 25% in science. The proportions of Asian and Hispanic students who tested below proficiency in reading, however, did not differ significantly, at 14% and 19% respectively. Overall, the parents of the 1988 Asian eighth graders were more likely to expect their children to earn at least a college degree compared with the parents of Hispanic eighth graders. As of 1994, Asian students were more likely to have enrolled in postsecondary education. Three appendixes contain a glossary, technical notes, and multivariate data tables.
* Kuh, George D. and Diana S. Natalicio. Forging a New Direction: How UTEP Created Its Own Brand of Excellence. About Campus, vol. 9, issue 5 (Nov-Dec 2004), pp. 9-15.
The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) sits on the border of Mexico and the United States in the middle of the world's largest binational metropolitan region. For years, it struggled to compete with top-tier research institutions with far greater resources in a quest to become "Harvard on the Border." In the late 1980s, new president Diana S. Natalicio wondered what would happen if her institution stopped trying to be something it was not and leveraged its distinctive attributes: a high population of bilingual first-generation college students and strong programs in science and engineering. Armed with a new attitude and vision, UTEP has become a national leader on a number of measures of quality in undergraduate education. In this article, George D. Kuh talks with President Natalicio about how UTEP created its own brand of excellence.

* Law, Kouok K. "The Georgia Perimeter College MESA Program: Propelling STEM Students to Success." MathAMATYC Educator, vol.l 3, issue 1 (Sept. 2011), pp. 44-50. Requires Interlibrary Loan.
From 2006 to 2008, while taking courses at Georgia Perimeter College (GPC), Joel Toussaint worked two jobs, one was at night. Now, he has graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology majoring in mechanical engineering, and he has been admitted to graduate school in mechanical engineer there. His plan for the future is to get his Ph. D. in mechanical engineering. He said he intends to "create new forms of technologies that will be used to better human life." What relieved him from the harsh financial requirements of higher education is the GPC MESA (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) Program. Originating from the University of California, the MESA Program prepares educationally disadvantaged students (low income, female, under-represented groups, and first-generation college students) to transfer and graduate from a four-year institution with a math-based degree. Its objective is to help students develop their academic and leadership skills, improve their scholastic performance, and gain confidence in their ability to compete professionally. This article is intended not only for those who are not familiar with MESA, but also for those who know about the program to inform all about the GPC version and the results obtained. (Contains 5 tables, 2 pictures and 2 figures.)

* Mussey, Season Shelly, Ed.D. Navigating the transition to college: First-generation undergraduates negotiate identities and search for success in STEM and non-STEM fields. University of California, San Diego, 2009, 260 pp.
Historically, racial and ethnic minority students from low income backgrounds have faced unequal access to colleges and universities. Recently, both K-12 and higher education institutions, specifically the University of California, in response to Proposition 209, have made efforts to increase access and opportunities for all students. Similarly, female minority students are underrepresented in selected science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors and careers. Using a qualitative research design, this study investigates how first generation, low income, underrepresented minority students who graduated from an innovative college preparatory high school enact coping strategies that they were explicitly taught to achieve success within the context of university science and math courses. The presence of a unique, college-prep high school on the campus of UC San Diego, which accepts exclusively low-income students through a randomized lottery system, creates an unusual opportunity to study the transition from high school to college for this population, a cohort of underrepresented students who were taught similar academic coping strategies for success in college. This study aims to understand how students develop their college-going, academic identities within the context of their colleges and universities. Furthermore, this study intends to understand the phenomenon of "transition to college" as a lived experience of first-generation, low income, minority students, who all share a similar college preparatory, high school background. The main research questions are: (1) How do underrepresented students experience the transition from a college preparatory high school to college? (2) How are students developing their college-going, academic identities in the context of their educational institutions? and (3) What factors support or constrain student participation and success in college science courses? Twenty-eight students participated in this study. Based on surveys and individual interviews with the participants, twenty student narratives were written and analyzed. The students' narratives provide a picture of how these underrepresented students are experiencing the transition to college. In this sample, five factors impact the students' college-going academic identity development, major choice, and career path: (1) college preparation in high school, (2) self-efficacy, (3) success in college academics, (4) affinity group participation, and (5) interaction with college faculty.
* Packard, Becky Wai-Ling and Maureen E. Babineau. "From Drafter to Engineer, Doctor to Nurse: An Examination of Career Compromise as Renegotiated by Working-Class Adults over Time."  Journal of Career Development, vol. 35, issue 3 (2009), pp. 207-227. Requires Interlibrary Loan.
This article explored career compromise as negotiated by working-class adults pursuing science-related careers. Using a multiple case study method, we focused on eight individuals who participated in an interview about their career choices and then were followed longitudinally for 2 years. All participants were first-generation college students from working-class families and, at the start of the study, were enrolled at a community college. The results highlight key factors that influenced initial compromises including time and financial constraints, family obligations, and lacking requisite skills. In addition, renegotiations of initial career compromises were sparked by plateaus at work, role models, wanting more money, and having limited time. An extended window of time and financial resources were critical for sustained college pursuit 2 years later. Implications for career development initiatives are discussed.

* Ryken, Amy E. "Goin' Somewhere": How Career Technical Education Programs Support and Constrain Urban Youths' Career Decision-Making. Career and Technical Education Research, vol. 31, issue 1 (2006), pp. 49-71. Requires Interlibrary Loan.
This study analyzes urban youths' career decision-making in a career and technical education program that provided work-based learning experiences and a pathway linking high school, community college, and work in biotechnology laboratories. The program provided work experiences not generally available to adolescents, and enabled students underrepresented in the sciences to experience and envision a scientific career. Case studies reveal tensions in students' career decision-making as they gained knowledge/skills and kept career and educational options open; students saw increasing options for their future and the limits of program experiences. Students should be supported to take on active roles and to shape educational and career programs to fit their unique goals.
* Schleicher, Andreas. Where Immigrant Students Succeed: A Comparative Review of Performance and Engagement in PISA 2003. Intercultural Education, vol. 17, issue 5 (Dec 2006), pp. 507-516. Requires Interlibrary Loan.
This report examines how immigrant students performed, mainly in mathematics and reading, but also in science and problem-solving skills in the PISA 2003 assessment, both in comparison with native students in their adopted country and relative to other students across all countries covered in the report (the "case countries"). In addition, the report explores to what extent immigrant students reported that they have other learning prerequisites, such as motivation to learn mathematics, positive attitudes towards school and strong belief in their own abilities in mathematics (self-concept). Two groups of immigrant students are analysed: "first-generation students" who were born outside the country of assessment and whose parents were also born in a different country; and "second-generation students" who themselves were born in the country of assessment but whose parents were born in a different country, i.e., students who have followed all their schooling in the country of assessment. The analyses include 17 countries with significant immigrant student populations: the OECD countries Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the US as well as the partner countries Hong Kong-China, Macao-China and the Russian Federation. Furthermore, the report attempts to identify factors that might contribute to between-country differences in immigrant student outcomes and, as such, could provide policy-makers with information on potential intervention points to improve the situation of these students.

* Schneider, Barbara; Michael Broda; Justina Judy; and Kri Burkander. Pathways to college and STEM careers: Enhancing the high school experienceNew Directions for Youth Development, #140 (Special Issue: Innovations in Improving Access to Higher Education), Winter 2013, pp. 9-29. With a rising demand for a college degree and an increasingly complicated college search, application, and selection process, there are a number of interventions designed to ease the college-going process for adolescents and their families. One such intervention, the College Ambition Program (CAP), is specifically designed to be a whole-school intervention that comprehensively connects several important aspects of the college-going process and specifically is focused on increasing interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). With many adolescents having interest in STEM careers but lacking knowledge of how to transform these interests into plans, CAP supports students in developing and pursuing their educational and occupational goals. CAP offers students tutoring and mentoring, course-counseling and advising, assistance through the financial aid process, and college experiences through visits to college campuses. In addition to these four core components, CAP is also pursuing how to integrate mobile technology and texting to further provide students with tailored resources and information about the college-going process. This chapter describes the complexities of the college-going process, the components of the CAP intervention, and presents findings that demonstrate that these strategies can increase college-going rates and interest in STEM. The authors highlight the importance of developing a college-going culture within high schools that support the alignment of postsecondary and career goals.

* Tatu, J. Christian, Ph.D. Career-technical students in first year college composition: A qualitative study. Lehigh University, 2009, 346 pp.
This dissertation examines the experiences of career-technical students in first-year college composition courses. The first chapter outlines the theoretical basis for such an examination by demonstrating, first, that attending college as preparation for careers outside the traditional arts and sciences is a relatively recent phenomenon, and second, that many of the assumptions made by composition scholars and classroom teachers about the learning needs and objectives of their students do not necessarily apply to career-technical students. The second and third chapters present the results of a two-part qualitative study of a large cadre of both career-technical and arts and science students enrolled in first-year composition courses at a small, rural community college. In the first phase of the study, presented in Chapter Two, I surveyed more than 130 students enrolled in basic writing and college composition courses during the fall semester of 2006. The survey included questions about family demographics, prior literacy experiences, experiences in college composition courses, and students' perceptions about the importance of literacy in their chosen careers. The responses were tabulated and subjected to statistical analysis to look for significant differences in the responses given by career-technical and arts and science students. In the second phase of the study, presented in Chapter Three, I interviewed a group of eleven students who had participated in phase one and asked a series of open-response questions to elicit further information about the trends I observed in phase one. In the fourth and final chapter, I discuss a series of recommendations for classroom practices based on the results of my study. The major theme of these recommendations is to make issues of socio-economic class and the literacy practices in a variety of career fields a primary focus of first-year composition courses, especially in institutions that serve a large number of career-technical students.
* Terenzini, Patrick T., et al. First-Generation College Students: Characteristics, Experiences, and Cognitive Development. Research in Higher Education, vol. 37, issue 1 (Feb 1996), pp. 1-22.
Comparison of 825 first-generation college students and 1,860 traditional college students in 23 diverse institutions after completion of 1 year found first-generation students differed from others in both entering characteristics and college experiences. Although traditional students made greater net gains in reading, the groups gained similarly in math and critical-thinking skills, but these gains resulted from different experiences.
* Watson, Jamal. On Life Support. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, vol. 23, issue 16 (Sep 2006), pp. 36-39.
The Hispanic Center of Excellence, which is located on the campus of the Albert Einstein Medical Center in the Bronx, is just one of the few federally funded programs in the country charged with producing new Hispanic physicians. Recently, the Office of Management and Budget, a federal department that assists President Bush in overseeing the preparation of the federal budget, told the staff at the Center of Excellence that they would not receive the three years of funding that they had been promised because the services they offered were considered "ineffective." However, Hal Strelnick, the center's director and 25-year veteran of the college, believes that the department's decision was wrong. He says that the five-year-old center, which supports about 800 students each year, successfully achieved 17 of its 18 stated objectives for the year. The problem, he says, is that Washington bureaucrats don't understand the specifics of rigorously training students--many of whom are the first in their families to go to college--for a life in the medical field. This article reports on Congress' decisions to erase funding for dozens of minority focused medical training centers like the Hispanic Center of Excellence, leaving them scrambling to stay afloat.

* Williams, Ashley. Family Context Influence on College Entry Math Proficiency among First-generation Students. Thesis. College of Education, Health, and Human Services, Kent State University, 2013.
The purpose of this study was to utilize an ecological perspective to examine how parent-adolescent relationship quality (microsystem), parental involvement (mesosysem), and parental employment characteristics (exosystem) relate to math proficiency at college entry for first-generation students. The participants in this study were 107 freshman first-generation college students from Kent State University. The majority of the sample resided with both parents during high school, 37 resided with just their mother, and five resided with just their father during high school. The participants completed several measures to retroactively assess the parent-adolescent relationship quality, parental involvement, and parental employment characteristic of the parent(s) they resided with during high school. In addition, a pre-college math coursework, college mathematics, and a demographic measure were completed as well by the participants. The results were correlated with their placement into math courses upon matriculation to determine what factors relate to math proficiency. Findings indicate a parent-adolescent relationship quality variable for mother's and father's are related to math proficiency at college entry for first-generation students. Overall, the variables of the parental-adolescent relationship quality are salient indicators of math proficiency for first-generation students.