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A Guide to the Research: General Overviews / Characteristics

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

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* McGlynn, Angela Provitera, Expanding the College Track for Access and Success, Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, vol. 74, issue 5 (Jan 2009), pp. 51-54.
This article is about ongoing initiatives aimed at attracting the underserved prior to their entering college to better prepare them for college and for academic success once they are admitted.

* Macy, Beth. From Rusty Wire Fences to Wrought-Iron Gates. How the Poor Succeed in Getting to--and through--College. Policy Perspectives. 47 pp. College Board, Washington, DC. Washington Office, 2000.
This booklet presents the stories of several students who were the first generation in their families to go to college, in order to dramatize the door-opening, life-changing power of Pell Grants and related student assistance. Interviewees were asked about the social history of their educational experiences; about the barriers they faced in getting to college; about the social, emotional, and financial barriers to attaining a postsecondary degree; and about how they overcame these barriers.

* Mahan, David M. The Four-Year Experience of First-Generation Students at a Small Independent University: Engagement, Student Learning, and Satisfaction. Dissertation. Department of Leadership, Foundations and Human Resource Education, University of Louisville, 2010.
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 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.

* Mangan, Katherine, "
The Challenge of the First-Generation Student," The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 28, 2015.

* Martin Lohfink, Mandy and Michael B. Comparing the Determinants of Persistence for First-Generation and Continuing-Generation Students. Journal of College Student Development, vol. 46, issue 4 (Jul-Aug 2005), pp. 409-428.
In this study we examined and compared the determinants of first-to-second-year persistence for 1,167 first-generation and 3,017 continuing-generation students at four-year institutions, using data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Survey (Wine, et al., 2002). Because first-generation students are over represented in the most disadvantaged racial, income, and gender groups, we used a critical theorist perspective to frame the research problem, guide inquiry, and interpret results.

* Martinez, Julia A., Kenneth J. Sher, Jennifer L. Krull, and Phillip K. Wood. Blue-Collar Scholars?: Mediators and Moderators of University Attrition in First-Generation College Students, Journal of College Student Development, vol. 50, issue 1 (Jan-Feb 2009), pp. 87-103.
Moderators and mediators of the effect of parental education on attrition were investigated in 3,290 students over four years. Low parental education was a risk for attrition; importantly, college GPAs both moderated and mediated this effect, and ACT scores, scholarships, loans, and full-time work mediated this effect. Drug use, psychological distress, and few reported academic challenges predicted attrition, independent of parental education.

* Meetze, Tracy E. Factors contributing to first-generation college student success. University of South Carolina, 2006, 63 pages.
The purpose of this study is to examine factors that influence first-generation college student success in the postsecondary setting. Four research questions guided the study: (1) How do the characteristics of the family shape first-generation college student success in the postsecondary setting? (2) How do the personal characteristics of first-generation college students shape their success in the postsecondary setting? (3) How do the characteristics of peers and peer groups shape first-generation college student success in the postsecondary setting? (4) How do the characteristics of postsecondary institutions shape first-generation college student success in the postsecondary setting? Data sources for the study included surveys and interviews. Survey data were collected and analyzed statistically and interview data were collected, transcribed, and coded for patterns and themes. The interview data were then used to support findings from the survey data. There were several findings in the study. The influence of family is present for students throughout their lives. The most important factor of family influence is the effect the level of education of both the mother and father has on the success of first-generation college students. When first-generation college students enter primary school, specific patterns of the structure of schooling begin to influence their college success. Tracking is one of the structures established in elementary and secondary schools that influences this long-term success. Intertwined with the influence of tracking is the influence of peers. Tracking often forms peer groups and differentiates between those who will go to college and those who will not. Finally, at the college and university level, the most influential factor is the mentoring experience provided during the attainment of a Doctorate Degree.

* Mehta, Sanjay S., John J. Newbold and Matthew A. O'Rourke. Why do first-generation students fail? College Student Journal, vol. 45, issue 1 (March 2011), pp. 20-35.
Previous studies have determined factors contributing to first-generation student success. This study finds that first-generation students are less involved, have less social and financial support, and do not show a preference for active coping strategies. First-generation students report less social and academic satisfaction as well as lower grade point average.

* Missed Opportunities: A New Look at Disadvantaged College Aspirants. 1997.
This report provides a comprehensive portrait of educationally disadvantaged college aspirants, focusing on three important factors that hinder access to and success in postsecondary education. These factors--welfare participation, first-generation college student status, and parental divorce--exacerbate the obstacles that continue to confront low-income, minority, and other disadvantaged students.

* Murphy, Catrina G.and Terence Hicks. Academic Characteristics among First-Generation and Non-First-Generation College Students. College Quarterly, vol. 9, issue 2 (Spr 2006).
This study involved a sample (n = 203) of college students and investigated the differences in academic expectations of first-generation and non-first-generation undergraduates who attended a doctoral-granting public four-year historically Black university on the eastern shore of Maryland. It used an ex post facto design with a population of students who were enrolled in a Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology or Introduction to Psychology course.

* Naumann, Wendy C., Deborah Bandalos and Terry B. Gutkin. Identifying Variables that Predict College Success for First-Generation College Students. Journal of College Admission, no. 181 (Fall 2003), pp. 4-9.
Purpose of study was to determine predictive validity of self-regulated learning variables in comparison to traditional college admission test scores for first-generation students. Also investigated were differences, regarding self-regulated learning variables and ACT, between first- and second-generation students and how self-regulated learning variables may have been related to academic performance.

* Oldfield, Kenneth. Humble and Hopeful: Welcoming First-Generation Poor and Working-Class Students to College, About Campus, vol. 11, issue 6 (Jan-Feb 2007), pp. 2-12.
In this article, the author, as a first-generation working-class college student who became a faculty member, offers his insights and recommendations after 40 years in the academy. He discusses the lessons he wishes he had learned before going to college and concludes by proposing some reforms that all colleges should enact to better meet the unique needs of their first-generation poor and working-class students.

* Orbe, Mark P. Negotiating Multiple Identities within Multiple Frames: An Analysis of First-Generation College Students. Communication Education, vol. 53, issue 2 (Apr 2004), pp. 131-149.
This article draws from narratives, collected from 79 first-generation college (FGC) students across several different campuses, to explore the saliency of FGC student status and the various ways in which it is enacted during interactions with others. Conclusions: (1) the salience of FGC status in their daily interactions varies considerably among students; (2) FGC status appears to be more important for individuals who also identify as co-cultural group members; and (3) FGC students appear to lack any significant sense of communal identity.

* Orbe, Mark P., "Theorizing Multidimensional Identity Negotiation: Reflections on the Lived Experiences of first-Generation College Students," in The Intersections of Personal and Social Identities. Margarita Azmitia, Moin Syed and Kimberley Radmacher, eds. Jossey-Bass, 2008. Young Library -- Books - 3rd Floor: BF724.3.I3 I568 2008.

* Orbe, Mark P. Theorizing Multidimensional Identity Negotiation: Reflections on the Lived Experiences of First-Generation College Students, New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, no. 120 (Summer 2008), pp. 81-95.
Drawing from recent research on first-generation college (FGC) students, this chapter advances an interdisciplinary theoretical framework for understanding how these students enact multiple aspects of their personal, cultural, and social identities. I use dialectical and cross-cultural adaptation theories as a foundation to extend examinations of how diverse FGC students negotiate the alien culture of the academy against that of home. In this regard, college is situated as a pivotal point of development, and successful negotiation of identity tensions is represented as a key factor in academic success.


* Orbe, Mark P. "Theorizing multidimensional identity negotiation : reflections on the lived experiences of first-generation college students," in The Intersections of Personal and Social Identities, edited by Margarita Azmitia, Moin Syed, and Kimberley Radmacher. Jossey-Bass, 2008. Education Library, BF 724.3 .I3 I568 2008

* Ortiz, Yesenia. The influence of perceived social support, academic self-concept, academic motivation, and perceived university environment on academic aspirations. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 2007, 142 pages
University students' academic aspirations are multidimensional. The influence of perceived social support, academic self-concept, academic motivation, and perceived university environment on university students' academic aspirations were investigated. Highest-aspiring students and typically-aspiring students were compared in order to determine any significant differences. Participants completed the Social Support Appraisals (SSA) and Social Support Behaviors (SSB) scales, Mentors Scale (MS), Academic Self-Concept Scale (ASCS), an academic motivation scale created by the author, the University Environment Scale (UES), and the Cultural Congruity Scale (CCS), as well as an item about academic aspirations. Results suggested that perceived social support, academic self-concept, and academic motivation were all significantly and positively correlated to academic aspirations, although the magnitude of the associations were modest. However, perceptions of the university environment were not correlated with academic aspirations. Students in the highest-aspiring group reported higher levels of perceived social support, academic motivation, and academic self-concept than their typically-aspiring counterparts. Exploratory analyses demonstrated significant gender, first-generation college attendee status, and family income differences.

* Overton-Healy, Julia, First-Generation College Seniors: A Phenomenological Exploration of the Transitional Experience of the Final College Year, Dissertation, Dept. of Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 2010.
This study investigated the transitional experience of college seniors who are also first-generation status. The Adult Transition Theory (Schlossberg, 1984) was used as the theoretical framework. A phenomenological approach was used, and the data collection incorporated individual and dyadic (two-interviewee) interviews. Data were analyzed using horizontalization, semantic repetitions, and frequency counting, resulting in the identification of organizing themes. Results indicate that certain archetypal experiences exist which help to define the transitional experience for this population and included (1) receiving institutional and formal communications regarding commencement; (2) engaging in focused post-college pursuits; and (3) changing personal relationships. It was also discovered certain mechanisms were used to make meaning of the phenomenon, such as (1) closure behaviors, (2) acknowledging emotions, (3) changing self label or identity, and (4) assuming a leadership role in the family. 

* Pappano, Laura, "First Generation Students Unite," New York Times, April 8, 2015, Education Life Supplement, p. 18.
If this version is not available, see the text through the Libraries' subscription.

* Pascarella, Ernest T., Christopher T. Pierson, Gregory C. Wolniak and Patrick T. Terenzini. First-Generation College Students: Additional Evidence on College Experiences and Outcomes, Journal of Higher Education, vol. 75, issue 3 (May-Jun 2004), pp. 249ff.
The growing demographic diversity of the under-graduate student body in American postsecondary education has been well documented over an extended period of time. One result of this increased diversity is the substantial number of "first-generation" college students from families where neither parent had more than a high-school education. For example, using results from the National Center for Education Statistics Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, Choy (2001) points out that in 1995-96, 34% of students entering the nation's four-year institutions and 53% of students starting at two-year colleges were first-generation students. The present study sought to expand the understanding of how first-generation students experience college and benefit from it in a more comprehensive analysis of the National Study of Student Learning data that followed individuals through the second and third years of college. Specifically, the study had three purposes. First, it sought to estimate net differences between first-generation and other college students along various dimensions of their academic and nonacademic experience of college. Second, it estimated the net difference between first-generation college students and their peers in select cognitive, psychosocial, and status attainment outcomes. These included standardized measures of science reasoning and writing skills at the end of the second year, standardized measures of reading comprehension and critical thinking at the end of the third year, as well as measures of openness to diversity and challenge, learning for self-understanding, internal locus of control, preference for higher-order cognitive activities, and educational degree plans at the end of the second and third years of college. Third, the study sought to determine if the specific academic and nonacademic experiences influencing cognitive and psychosocial outcomes differed in magnitude for first-generation versus other college students. The study sample comprised students who participated in the National Study of Student Learning (NSSL), a federally funded, longitudinal study of college student experiences and outcomes. The NSSL followed samples of students from 18 four-year colleges for a period of three years. Its major purpose was to assess the factors influencing students' learning and cognitive development during college. The study was initiated in the Fall of 1992 and continued through the spring of 1995.

* Peabody, Michael, Neal H. Hutchens, Wayne D. Lewis, and Matthew Deffendall. "First-Generation College Students at the University of Kentucky." Policy Analysis Center for Kentucky Education (PACKE). 2011.
First-generation college students (FGCS) have been shown to graduate at lower rates than their continuing-generation counterparts even after controlling for other variables. We will attempt to examine the characteristics of FGCS and determine initiatives the University of Kentucky might enact in order to increase the graduation rates for this segment of the student population. In doing so we will discuss “promising practices” in student retention, examine programs designated by UK’s Top-20 plan as benchmark institutions, and submit a series of recommendations to better serve FGCS at the University of Kentucky.

* Penrose, Ann M. Academic Literacy Perceptions and Performance: Comparing First-Generation and Continuing-Generation College Students. Research in the Teaching of English, vol. 36, issue 4 (May 2002), pp. 437-61.
Examines first-generation students' perceptions of their academic literacy skills and their performance and persistence in college. Indicates that first generation students' self-perceptions represent critical factors in the college experience, underscoring the importance of helping students forge identities as members of academic communities.

* Pike, Gary R. and George D Kuh. First- And Second-Generation College Students: A Comparison of Their Engagement and Intellectual Development. Journal of Higher Education, vol. 76, issue 3 pp. 276ff.
Students today are different from their counterparts of three and four decades ago. Women have outnumbered men for more than 15 years, and the participation rates for members of historically underrepresented groups have made impressive gains. Many of these "new" students are the first in their families to attend college. It is important that these students succeed in college. The baccalaureate degree is an avenue of upward social mobility, representing the single most important rung in the educational-attainment ladder in terms of economic benefits. In addition, many of the 10 million jobs that will be created in the next decade will require skills and competencies beyond those acquired in high school. Unfortunately, a disproportionately low number of first-generation students succeed in college. According to Warburton, Bugarin, and Nunez (2001), there is a 15% gap between the 3-year persistence rates of first- and second-generation students (73% and 88%, respectively). The present research draws on a national survey database to address three questions: (1) Are the relationships among background characteristics, engagement, and learning and intellectual development the same for first- and second-generation students? (2) Do first- and second-generation college students differ in terms of their backgrounds, levels of engagement during college, and reported gains in learning and intellectual development? (3) Are differences between first- and second-generation students directly related to first-generation status, or are they an indirect result of associations between first-generation status and antecedent characteristics or experiences? In order to examine differences in the backgrounds, college experiences, and learning outcomes of first- and second-generation students, multigroup structural equation models with latent variables were used.

* Pike, Gary R., George D. Kuh, and Ryan C. Massa-McKinley, First-Year Students' Employment, Engagement, and Academic Achievement: Untangling the Relationship between Work and Grades, NASPA Journal, vol. 45, issue 4 (2008) pp. 560-582. Requires Interlibrary Loan.
This study examined the relationships among first-year students' employment, engagement, and academic achievement using data from the 2004 National Survey of Student Engagement. A statistically significant negative relationship was found between working more than 20 hours per week and grades, even after controlling for students' characteristics and levels of engagement. An examination of the indirect relationships between work and grades revealed that working 20 hours or less on campus was significantly and positively related to grades, acting through student engagement.

* Pittman, Laura D. and Adeya Richmond, Academic and Psychological Functioning in Late Adolescence: The Importance of School Belonging, Journal of Experimental Education, vol. 75, issue 4 (Sum 2007), pp. 270-290.
Few researchers have considered the influence of school context, an important construct at earlier ages, on late adolescents' college adjustment. In a sample of second-semester freshmen (N = 266), the authors explored associations between a sense of school belonging and academic and psychological adjustment. Students' reports of belonging at the university as well as in high school were both significant in predicting current academic (e.g., grades, academic competence) and psychological adjustment (i.e., self-worth, internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors), even after controlling for other important demographic and relationship factors. Last, the authors found that parental education (i.e., whether the participant was a first-generation college student) interacted with high school belonging in predicting externalizing problem behaviors.

* Priebe, Lisa C., Tamra L. Ross and Karl W. Low, Exploring the Role of Distance Education in Fostering Equitable University Access for First Generation Students: A Phenomenological Survey, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, vol. 9, issue 1 (Feb 2008), pp. 1-12.
Using a qualitative study of distance education (DE) learners whose parents have not accessed post-secondary education (PSE), this paper proposes themes for further research in the study of first-generation students (FGS). This survey asked a number of open-ended questions about parental influences on university enrollment, and respondents' reasons for choosing university in general and DE in particular. Findings were consistent with current research in many areas focusing on debt aversion, lower parental guidance, older starting age, and difficulty separating from familial roles. Differences were noted, including lower parental valuation of PSE and an increased emphasis on non-educational priorities, such as family and work. The limitations of the current study are discussed, as well as suggestions for future FGS research in DE.

* Prospero, Moises, Catherine Russell, and Shetal Vohra-Gupta. Effects of Motivation on Educational Attainment: Ethnic and Developmental Differences among First-Generation Students, Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, vol. 11, issue 1 (Jan 2012),  pp. 100-119. Requires Interlibrary Loan.
This study investigated differences in educational motivation among Hispanic and non-Hispanic first-generation students (FGS). Participants were 315 high school and college students who completed a revised academic motivation survey that measured participants' educational motivation (intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and amotivation). The study found that extrinsic and amotivation were significant predictors of grade point averages (GPAs) among FGS. In addition, high school FGS and Hispanic students were more likely to report higher intrinsic motivation than college FGS and non-Hispanic students. Implications for higher education are discussed. (Contains 5 tables.)

* Prospero, Moises and Shetal Vohra-Gupta, First Generation College Students: Motivation, Integration, and Academic Achievement, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, vol. 31, issue 12 (Dec 2007), pp. 963-975. Requires ILL.
The study reported in this article investigated motivation and integration dimensions that influence college academic achievement of first-generation students compared to nonfirst-generation students. Participants consisted of 277 ethnically diverse students who were attending a community college. Bivariate and multivariate statistical analyses revealed that motivation and integration dimensions contributed significantly to academic achievement for first-generation students, but not for nonfirst-generation students. Specifically, among first-generation students, academic integration contributed to higher grade point averages while extrinsic motivation and amotivation contributed significantly to lower grades. Implications of these finding and recommendations are discussed. (Contains 5 tables.)


* Radomski, Teresa. Perceptions of support, likelihood of retention, and differences between places of origin among first-generation college students. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Kentucky, 2011.
First-generation college students are less likely to attend and complete college than their peers whose parents have completed college. Among the reasons cited for this disparity is lack of parental familiarity of the college admissions process and financial aid opportunities. First-generation youth wishing to pursue a college education must rely on others for this knowledge. This study examines first-generation college students' perceptions of support and whether their places of origin have any bearing on their future plans. The study examines interviews with participants through the lens of Tinto's (1993) model of student departure to examine whether their responses, and whether their places of origin, point toward likelihood of student retention. This study finds that students cite parents and high school faculty and staff as most supportive when preparing for college. After arriving in college, there are no differences among students based on place of origin and likelihood of retention. Participation in a retention program appears to help the students meet the criteria for student retention as outlined by Tinto's model.
* Ramos-Sanchez, Lucila and Laura Nichols, Self-Efficacy of First-Generation and Non-First-Generation College Students: The Relationship with Academic Performance and College Adjustment, Journal of College Counseling, vol. 10, issue 1 (Spr 2007), pp. 6-19.
The authors examined whether self-efficacy mediated the relationship between generational status and 2 academic outcome indicators of 192 college students. A mediation effect was not found with either academic performance or college adjustment. However, high self-efficacy at the beginning of the year predicted better college adjustment at the end of the 1st year. For college students in general, high self-efficacy was related to better college adjustment. Recommendations for counselors are discussed.

* Reed, Charles B. The Future Cannot Wait. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, vol. 39, issue 6 (Nov-Dec 2007), pp. 28-33.
When asked to identify the greatest challenge he faces as the leader of the country's largest system of higher education, the author, a chancellor of California State University, states that the challenge is the urgent need to reach students from traditionally underserved populations--to prepare them and get them into college and then to make sure they graduate. He adds that people must find ways to reach students who might not speak English as a first language, whose parents or grandparents may never have been to a college campus, and whose teachers and counselors may not have paid attention to their needs. These students are already in the majority in California, and their numbers are growing rapidly throughout the country. In an effort to help these students and their parents understand what steps they need to take to prepare for, get into, and succeed in college, the California State University is trying many different approaches to try to meet the needs before the situation becomes a crisis. In this article, the author describes the efforts of the CSU system in meeting this challenge and in reaching the underserved populations.

* Reid, M. Jeanne and James L. Moore, College Readiness and Academic Preparation for Postsecondary Education: Oral Histories of First-Generation Urban College Students, Urban Education, vol. 43, issue 2 (2008), pp. 240-261.
As a part of a larger qualitative study, this research investigation explored the perceptions and attitudes that first-generation, urban college students have of their preparation for postsecondary education. The purposeful sample in this study was comprised of 13 first-generation college students (i.e., 6 males and 7 females) who were graduates of the same urban high school. The qualitative methodology was comprised of individual interviews and biographical questionnaires. The themes that emerged--surrounding the students' perceptions and attitudes of their preparation for postsecondary education--included (a) the preparation during high school that helped with college success and (b) the skills that were lacking for college success. Practical applications for educators (i.e., school counselors, teachers, administrators, and postsecondary educators) are included.

* Results and Reflections: An Evaluation Report. Indiana's Twenty-First Century Scholars Program: A State-Wide Story with National Implications, Lumina Foundation for Education, 2008. 48 pp.
This report summarizes three separate evaluative research projects, which address different but related aspects of Indiana's Twenty-first Century Scholars program, a state-supported effort to promote pre-college preparation and postsecondary access for low-income students. Considered collectively, the studies support the following assertions: (1) the Scholars program promotes enrollments and success in academically challenging high school coursework among low-income and first-generation students; (2) the Scholars program allows participating students and families to view college as a real possibility; (3) Relationships forged through the program are reported by students, families and staff to yield personal and academic benefit beyond college enrollment; (4) Although a growing number of Indiana colleges and universities now provide targeted support services for Twenty-first Century Scholars, availability varies widely between campuses and few institutions have developed Scholar-specific programs to ease transition into and bolster success in college; (5) Schools and institutions are challenged by a lack of current identification and tracking data; and (6) Despite program limitations, its component elements of pre-college service/preparation, financial aid, and targeted academic/social supports make a measurable difference in improving the success rate of low-income and first-generation students. Recommendations are offered for improving practice and policies.

* Riehl, Richard J. The Academic Preparation, Aspirations, and First-Year Performance of First-Generation Students. College and University, vol. 70, issue 1 (Fall 1994), pp. 14-19. Available in the paper journal collection in the Education Library.
This study compared the academic preparation, aspirations, and first-year college performance of first-generation college freshmen with other college freshmen at Indiana State University. It found that first-generation students were more likely to drop out during the first semester and had lower first-semester grades than students with one or more college-educated parents.

* Roksa, Josipa. An Analysis of Learning Outcomes of Underrepresented Students at Urban Institutions. Council of Independent Colleges. 2012. 40 pp.
The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) has long been concerned about the educational success of students, particularly underrepresented groups of students. As part of its Creating Pathways to Educational and Economic Opportunity in Urban Colleges and Universities project (the Pathways Project), CIC organized 19 institutions, nine in urban and ten in non-urban areas, to explore students' performance on the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA). In addition to collecting data from a representative sample of students, participating institutions agreed to draw an in-depth sample of first-generation students (defined based on parental education) and low-income students (defined based on Pell-grant eligibility). The in-depth sample increased the sample size of underrepresented groups and thus allowed for more accurate estimates of their CLA performance. The data included in this report are cross-sectional, with institutions collecting information from samples of first-year students in fall 2010 and seniors in spring 2011. The first portion of this report focuses on CLA performance of underrepresented groups of students. Though descriptive results reveal gaps in CLA performance between underrepresented groups and their more advantaged peers, those differences can be accounted for by student characteristics. Thus, after adjusting for student characteristics, particularly academic preparation, no notable gaps in CLA performance appear among different groups of students. More specifically: (1) Descriptive results indicate that first-generation students perform less well on the CLA than non-first-generation students; (2) Similarly, after adjusting for individual-level characteristics, there are no differences in CLA performance in either first or senior year between Pell-eligible and non-Pell-eligible students; and (3) Descriptive gaps in CLA performance by race/ethnicity are substantially larger than those by first-generation status and Pell-grant eligibility. The second portion of the report focuses explicitly on CLA performance of both students and institutions in urban and non-urban settings. These analyses reveal several key findings: (1) Student-level analyses reveal no difference in CLA performance in urban and non-urban settings, after adjusting for students' individual-level characteristics. One exception is the performance task of the CLA in the senior year, when students in urban contexts seem to perform less well than students in non-urban settings; (2) Institutional value-added analyses confirm results obtained from individual-level models. On average, urban institutions have slightly lower value-added scores than non-urban institutions with respect to the performance task measure, but not with respect to other components of the CLA; and (3) Institutional value-added analyses also reveal large variation among institutions within both urban and non-urban contexts. There are institutions in each context that have positive and negative value-added scores. This variation "within" each setting by far overshadows any overall differences between urban and non-urban settings. These findings have several notable implications: (1) The most important predictor of CLA performance is academic preparation; (2) Urban and non-urban institutions on average perform equally well on the CLA, and most of the variation is within specific institutional settings (i.e., urban and non-urban) as opposed to across them; and (3) CLA performance varies more within institutions than across them. All institutions have students who perform at different levels, producing much more variation within institutions than across them. (Contains 22 figures, 16 tables, and 3 footnotes.)

* Saenz, Victor B., First in my family: a profile of first-generation college students at four-year institutions since 1971, Higher Education Research Institute, 2007.
Contents: Existing research on first-generation college students -- Description of methods -- Demographic summary -- Gender differences -- Educational attainment -- Racial/ethnic group differences -- Citizenship status -- CIRP freshman survey trends -- Parental encouragement -- Reasons for choosing a college: motivations for first-generation students and peers -- Reasons for going to college: financial security and future plans for education -- Work experiences and expectation at college entry -- Financial considerations for going to college -- Influence of home in the college choice process -- College residence -- Academic preparation at college entry -- Social self-confidence and leadership ability -- Changing student values -- Degree objectives -- A special focus on private college and universities -- Private institutions: a profile of entering first-generation college students -- Private institutions: first-generation students' reasons and motivations for going to college -- Private institutions: first generation student activities and expectations -- Conclusions: Implications for institutional support.

* Schultz, Patrick F., Upon Entering College: First Semester Experiences of First-Generation Rural Students from Agricultural Families, Rural Educator, vol. 26, issue 1 (Fall 2004), pp. 48-51.
First-generation and rural college students are considered by many retention theorists and practitioners to be an at-risk population. This study examined the details of the first semester in postsecondary education from the perspective of a group of students who met the demographic criteria of being first-generation to go to college, from rural geographical areas, and from agricultural backgrounds. It focused on the first semester experience, during its occurrence, and how six students of this specific population viewed that phenomenon. A secondary objective was to determine if the understandings that issued from the research could form a foundation from which first semester retention strategies for this particular population could be configured.

* Schultz, William Todd. "Ever upward and no turning back: social mobility and identity formation among first-generation college students," in Turns in the road: narrative studies of lives in transition, Dan P. McAdams, Ruthellen Josselson, and Amia Lieblich, eds. American Psychological Association, 2001. Young Library - 4th Floor, Call Number: BF637.L53 T87 2001.

* Seay, Sandra E., A Comparison of Family Care Responsibilities of First-Generation and Non-First-Generation Female Administrators in the AcademyEducational Management Administration & Leadership, vol. 38, issue 5 (Sep 2010), pp. 563-577. Requires Interlibrary Loan.
This study addressed the void of information concerning the post-baccalaureate work experiences of first-generation women by documenting their presence in higher education administrative positions and by determining that providing care for a greater number of dependent children than their peers remained in the profile of first-generation women who had transitioned from undergraduate students to academic administrators. The data results and a literature review are used to suggest that family-friendly workplace policies including equitable pay for women and health insurance options that allow coverage for elderly parents could assist first-generation women who aspire to academic positions within higher education.

* Snell, Theron P., First-Generation Students, Social Class, and Literacy, Academe, vol. 94, issue 4 ( Jul-Aug 2008), pp. 28-31.
The author works as an academic adviser and adjunct instructor at a small, public, four-year university that provides the usual spread of bachelor's degree programs, as well as several master's degrees. He has done similar work at a private liberal arts college and at a branch campus of a large state school. He brings to this work not only a PhD in American studies but also experience teaching English in a Colombian high school for two years and teaching English as a second language in a language institute in Bogota, Colombia, for a year. At each of the U.S. institutions at which he has worked, administrators and faculty alike have worried about and studied first-generation college students, looking at specific academic and social challenges these students face and how best to ensure student success. In this article, the author looks at this concern about first-generation students from the perspective he has gained from working at a smaller, regional university and from teaching cross-culturally. Although faculty members and administrators invoke first-generation status to explain many of the academic problems they perceive, his experience suggests that social class and local social environment, particularly their respective effects on literacy, are just as crucial indicators of success. Class, in fact, may act as a multiplier to first-generation status.

* Somers, Patricia, Shawn Woodhouse and Jim Cofer. Pushing the Boulder Uphill: The Persistence of First-Generation College Students. NASPA Journal, vol. 41, issue 3 (Spr 2004), pp. 418-435.
This study examined the impact of background, aspirations, achievement, college experiences, and price on the persistence of first-generation (F-gen) and continuing generation (C-gen) college students at 4-year institutions using the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study of 1995-96 (n = 24,262). The authors found differences between the two groups on the effect size for almost all of the significant variables. F-gen students were more sensitive to financial aid and averse to student loans than their peers. However, even variables such as high income, high test score, and high grade point average, which similar studies have found to be significant and positively associated with persistence, did not influence the persistence of F-gen students in this study.

* Soria, Krista M. and Michael J. Stebleton. First-Generation Students' Academic Engagement and Retention, Teaching in Higher Education, vol. 17, issue 6, pp. 673-685 2012. Requires Interlibrary Loan. Available electronically July-August, 2013, through the title link.
This study investigates differences in academic engagement and retention between first-generation and non-first-generation undergraduate students. Utilizing the Student Experience in the Research University survey of 1864 first-year students at a large, public research university located in the United States, this study finds that first-generation students have lower academic engagement (as measured by the frequency with which students interacted with faculty, contributed to class discussions, brought up ideas from different courses during class discussions, and asked insightful questions in class) and lower retention as compared to non-first-generation students. Recommendations that higher education faculty can follow to promote the academic engagement and retention of first-generation students are addressed. (Contains 5 tables.)

* Spronken-Smith, R. A., C. Bond,N. Buissink-Smith, and G. Grigg. Millennium Graduates' Orientations to Higher Education. College Student Journal, vol. 43, issue 2 (June 2009, pt. A), pp. 352-65.
This research examines graduates' orientations to higher education at the turn of the millennium. The focus is on 'millennium graduates' since this cohort have experienced a time of radical reform in higher education. Twenty-four graduates were interviewed and four orientations to higher education were found: (A) gaining a qualification for a specific job; (B) preparation for a job; (C) developing life skills and learning how to think; and (D) education for its own sake: growing as an individual. Differences in graduates' notions of a degree, and of knowledge and skills are evident across the orientations. In particular, orientations A and B have limitations inherent in the skill profile. A link is suggested between orientations A and B and previous familial experience of university and graduation, since first generation students are more likely to hold orientation A or B.

* Stieha, Vicki. Expectations and Experiences: The Voice of a First-Generation First-Year College Student and the Question of Student Persistence, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education (QSE), vol. 23, issue 2 (Mar 2010), pp. 237-249.
This single case study takes a phenomenological approach using the voice centered analysis to analyze qualitative interview data so that the voice of this first-generation college student is brought forward. It is a poignant voice filled with conflicting emotional responses to the desire for college success, for family stability, for meaningful friendships, and for understanding the self. In combination with other research calling for an expansion of the dominant theory of persistence, this research raises the importance of elevating family relationships in the student persistence model.

* Strayhorn, Terrell L. Factors Influencing the Academic Achievement of First-Generation College Students. NASPA Journal, vol. 43, issue 4 (2006), pp. 82-111. Requires Interlibrary Loan.
First-generation college students face a number of unique challenges in college. These obstacles may have a disparate effect on educational outcomes such as academic achievement. This study presents findings from an analysis of the Baccalaureate & Beyond Longitudinal Study using hierarchical multiple regression techniques to measure the influence of first-generation status on cumulative grade point average (GPA) in college, controlling for precollege and college variables. Findings suggest that first-generation status is a significant predictor of GPA controlling for an extensive array of background and intervening variables. Initially, background variables accounted for a small but significant proportion of college GPA variance. Final results suggest that first-generation status significantly explains differences in cumulative GPA, accounting for nearly 22% (p less than 0.001) of GPA variance. Findings are congruent with college impact theory and support prior conclusions. Still, a number of important relationships and implications for future research are discussed. (Contains 1 figure and 4 tables.)

* Strayhorn, Terrell L. Theoretical Frameworks in College Student Research. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2013. RequiresInterlibrary Loan.
Examines the role of theory in the design, conduct, and analysis of research on college students. Includes "College Impact Theory and Academic Achievement of First-Generation Students."

Stuber, Jenny Marie. Integrated, Marginal, and Resilient: Race, Class, and the Diverse Experiences of White First-Generation College Students, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education (QSE), vol. 24, issue 1 (Jan 2011), pp. 117-136.
While first-generation college students are "at risk", the majority "do" persist. Using in-depth interviews with 28 white college students I ask: How do white, first-generation, working-class students understand their college experiences, especially in terms of their academic, social, and cultural adjustment? Moreover, what kinds of factors seem to help or hinder their adjustment to college life? I discovered three patterns of adjustment among these students: (1) about half expressed few feelings of marginality and appeared well integrated into campus life; (2) one quarter experienced persistent and debilitating marginality; and (3) another quarter overcame their feelings of marginality en route to becoming socially and academically engaged on campus, with some transforming their feelings of marginality into motivation for social change. I argue that these variations can be understood by looking at how working-class students' economic resources may function as an asset, while their whiteness may function alternately as an asset and a liability.

* Summerville, Bernadette M. The relationship between first-generation students' educational background and selected academic and non-academic variables. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 2009, 104 pp.
The door to college is open for increasing numbers of students for whom adapting to college may be a great challenge (Kamphoff, Hutson, Amundsen, & Atwood, 2007). Hansen (1998) noted that the overall academic preparation level has declined for students entering college and that academic disengagement in college has increased among many students. The educational background of the parents has been shown to have a significant impact on a student's decision to attend college (Choy, 200). Many firs-generation students come from ethnic and educational backgrounds that historically have struggled with the educational system (Somers, Woodhouse, & Cofer, 2004). The purpose of the study was to determine if there is a relationship between students' parental educational background and selected academic and non-academic variables of entering college freshmen. The participants in this study were enrolled at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, a comprehensive public Midwestern research university, during academic years 2006-2008. Academic and non-academic factors were assessed to determine if differences existed between first-generation and non-first-generation students. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences versions 16.0 (SPSS 16.0) and Microsoft Excel 2007. Descriptive statistics were calculated to provide a general profile of the students. Descriptive data analyzed included demographic information, non-academic data (assessed using the Bryson Instrument for Noncognitive Assessment), and academic data (high school GPA and rank, ACT composite and subscores).

* Thomas, Liz and Jocey Quinn, First generation entry into higher education: an international study, Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press, 2007. Requires ILL.

* Ting, Siu-Man Raymond. A Longitudinal Study of Non-Cognitive Variables in Predicting Academic Success of First-Generation College StudentsCollege & University, vol. 78, issue 4 (Spr 2003), pp. 27-31.
Examined the academic success of 215 first-generation students at a public research university by examining non-cognitive variables and SAT scores. Found that non-cognitive variables are better indicators for continuing enrollment and moderate predictors for GPAs of students of color.

* Tsai, Tien-I, "Coursework-Related Information Horizons of First-Generation College Students," Information Research: An International Electronic Journal, vol 17, issue 4 (Dec 2012). 13 pp.
This study examines first-generation college students' information behaviour through Sonnenwald's theoretical framework of information horizons, a mental map upon which people place the information sources they use. Method: A web survey with 450 first-generation college students and 12 interviews were used to collect data. Interview participants were also asked to draw their information horizon maps to reflect the information sources they preferred to use. Analysis: Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive and inference statistics such as chi-square tests; qualitative data were analysed using the NVivo qualitative analysis program. Results: Results showed that students used different information and human sources across coursework-related settings, and family members were generally only consulted for coursework-related moral support. Students tended to use information sources prior to human sources. Conclusions: Learning the characteristics of first-generation college students' information horizons, including what they use as well as the reasons why, could help develop appropriate orientation programs and workshops for first-generation college students to support their adjustment and transition into college life.

* Vuong, Mui, Sharon Brown-Welty and Susan Tracz. The Effects of Self-Efficacy on Academic Success of First-Generation College Sophomore StudentsJournal of College Student Development, vol. 51, issue 1 (Jan-Feb 2010), pp. 50-64.
The purpose of this study was to analyze the effects of self-efficacy on academic success of first-generation college sophomore students. The participants in the study consisted of college sophomores from 5 of the 23 California State University campuses. An online College Self-Efficacy Inventory was employed to measure participants' self-efficacy levels. The study explored four areas: the relationship between self-efficacy scores and academic success as defined by GPA and persistence rates, the academic success and persistence rates between first-generation and second-and-beyond-generation college sophomore students, the effects of the demographic factors of gender and ethnicity on self-efficacy, and the relationship between institution size and self-efficacy. Findings show that self-efficacy beliefs affect GPA and persistence rates of sophomore students and second-generation college sophomores outperform their first-generation peers.

* Wang, Chia-Chih D. C. and Carrie Castaneda-Sound, The Role of Generational Status, Self-Esteem, Academic Self-Efficacy, and Perceived Social Support in College Students' Psychological Well-BeingJournal of College Counseling, vol. 11, issue 2 (Fall 2008), pp. 101-118.
This study examined the influences of generational status, self-esteem, academic self-efficacy, and perceived social support on 367 undergraduate college students' well-being. Findings showed that 1st-generation students reported significantly more somatic symptoms and lower levels of academic self-efficacy than did non-1st-generation students. In addition, students' generational status was found to moderate predictive effects of perceived family support on stress. Implications for professional practices, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.

* Warburton, Edward C., Rosio Bugarin and Anne-Marie Nunez. Bridging the Gap: Academic Preparation and Postsecondary Success of First-Generation StudentsEducation Statistics Quarterly, vol. 3, issue 3 (Fall 2001), pp. 73-77.
Focused on how the high school preparation of first-generation students (i.e., students whose parents did not attend college) related to these students' performance and persistence at 4-year colleges. Compared these students with their peers whose parents graduated from college. Parents' levels of education were associated with student retention and persistence in college.

* Walpole, MaryBeth. Economically and educationally challenged students in higher education: access to outcomesASHE Higher Education Report, Vol. 33, issue 3, pp. 1-113 (2007).
From the Publisher: The gap between low-and high-SES student college enrollment has not diminished in decades. This volume provides an overview of the current research on this problem and provides ideas and insights that may help reduce the gap. It integrates the research on low-SES, low-income, working-class, and first-generation students' access to, enrollment and experiences in, and outcomes of college. The author suggests economically and educationally challenged (EEC) students as an umbrella term for these overlapping categories of students and provides reasons why such a term may be appropriate. The volume reviews how scholars define socioeconomic status and its component variables and how those definitions are used in higher education research. It also highlights conceptual frameworks and models used in research on these students and reviews EEC students' access to, experiences in, and outcomes of college attendance. Students with multiple identities-for example, being from a particular social class while also belonging to specific racial, ethnic, and gender groups-are discussed as well. Since these students disproportionately attend particular types of institutions, organizational responses and policies specific to this group of students are also addressed. The volume concludes with implications and recommendations for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. This is the third issue in the 33rd volume of the Jossey-Bass series ASHE Higher Education Report. Each monograph in the series is the definitive analysis of a tough higher education problem, based on thorough research of pertinent literature and institutional experiences. Topics are identified by a national survey. Noted practitioners and scholars are then commissioned to write the reports, with experts providing critical reviews of each manuscript before publication.

* Weichman, Taylor. Success Informs Success: Experiences of Persisting First-Generation College Males. Master's Thesis, Educational Administration, Unviersity of Nebraska Lincoln, 2013.
This research focuses on the experiences of first-generation college males who have successfully persisted into their second year of college. The experiences of a first-generation student have been described as “a constant battle.” The students in this study have overcome the many challenges ascribed to them as first-generation college students, and persisted into their second year of college. Exploring the experiences of these men through their eyes allowed the research to examine the challenges and supports that the men themselves identify as important to their first year experience. This information has implications for future practice involving first-generation students, with the goal of helping them persist toward degree completion.

* Weirick, Janet K. I Don‘T Know Who I Am—Considering Where I Came from: First-Generation Working-Class College Graduates Describe Their Journeys to Baccalaureate Degrees. Dissertation. Educational Leadership Dept., Indiana State University, 2011. 
This phenomenological study explored recent memories of some of the struggles and joys that first-generation students faced in their college experiences as they successfully completed four-year degrees at a private liberal arts college in the Midwest. These lived experiences included personal and structural issues of individual identity, class identity, first-generation observations, campus experiences, and family relationships. Their stories will inform research and provide insights for professionals working to improve levels of college retention and student growth. First-generation college students are retained and graduate at a lower rate than second-generation college students and are consequently at risk for dropping out or stopping out of college before graduation. Current retention programs for first-generation students have been only somewhat effective in increasing their completion rate. This qualitative exploration of the lives of successful first-generation college graduates gives insights into how these students achieved their goals of a college degree, in spite of the great odds against them. These graduates were expressly aware of those odds as they negotiated systems of complex bureaucracies and formed relationships in various social settings. While meeting and maintaining academic standards, they needed to learn new middle-class languages, system codes, and geography.

* Williams, Peter E. and Chan M. Hellman. Differences in Self-Regulation for Online Learning between First- and Second-Generation College StudentsResearch in Higher Education, vol. 45, issue 1 (Feb 2004), pp. 71-82.
Self-regulation is generally accepted as an important construct in student success within environments that allow learner choice, such as online courses. The purpose of the current study was to investigate differences between first- and second-generation college students' ability to self-regulate their online learning. An ANCOVA, with comfort level using the computer as a control, provided evidence that first-generation students report significantly lower levels of self-regulation for online learning than their second-generation counterparts.

* York, Travis. Exploring Service-learning Outcomes and Experiences for Low-income, First-generation College Students: a Mixed Methods Approach. Dissertation. Higher Education Program, Pennsylvania State University, 2013. As of July 24, 2014, requires Interlibrary Loan.
Four primary conclusions result from the synthesis of the findings of both phases: (1) LIFG students participate in service-learning at equal rates to the overall student population; (2) LIFG students’ participation in service-learning results from the combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and has little to do with pre-college characteristics; (3) service-learning participation has positive impacts on academic outcomes for LIFG student; and, (4) service-learning participation has positive impacts on affective outcomes LIFG student.

* Zwerling, Steven and Howard B. London, First-generation students: confronting the cultural issues, Jossey-Bass, 1992. [Has a community college focus.]