College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-14-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Gayle Mindes, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Nancy T. Hill, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

An-Chih Cheng, Ph.D.

Abstract

Recent studies have shown that roughly one-third of the total students at four-year universities are the first in their families to attend college. These students are commonly referred to as first-generation college (FGC) students. The percent of total college students who are FGC students is expected to rise as the children of working-class, predominantly “blue collar” baby boomers, and the children of immigrants reach college age and enter the college arena. However, these students often enter college with unique academic and social challenges that result in an attrition rate of almost twice that of non- FGC students. While numerous studies have focused on university-level interventions and programs to help these students persist and succeed in college, a gap in the literature lies in the exploration classroom-level interventions that may help FGC students succeed academically. The purpose of this study was to explore student perceptions of the efficacy of various teaching strategies in promoting academic success and to investigate the connection that these perceptions may have in predicting the student learning strategies that prior studies have shown to have a positive effect on student scholastic success. The data for this study was gathered from a survey administered to students enrolled in undergraduate accounting courses at a private, four-year, Midwestern university. The survey included questions from the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) and researcher-authored questions that focused on the perceived efficacy of various teaching techniques on student academic success. The results of the data analysis were partitioned by FGC status in order to isolate any differences between those students who were first in their families to attend college and those who were not first in their families. Among the central findings, the use of the teaching techniques of instructor-prepared materials, and required class participation and personal interaction was positively associated with stronger self-regulation skills for FGC students. This finding was important because self-regulation skills have been shown in this and in prior studies to be positively associated with academic success. In addition, required class participation and personal interaction was positively associated with FGC students’ propensity to work with their peers and to seek help when needed. This supports prior research that indicates that ‘forced’ classroom engagement may be needed for FGC students to derive the academic benefits of collaborative learning, which, in turn, can help them integrate into both the formal academic system and the informal social system of the university community. Taken together, these findings suggest that teaching strategies aimed at helping FGC students overcome their unique academic and social challenges may have a positive effect on the retention and scholastic achievement of these students. Since the current literature focuses primarily on university-level interventions and programs that are intended to help FGC students persist and succeed in college, the current study contributes to the literature in that it provides a better understanding of classroom-level interventions that may be contribute positively to the academic success of FGC students.