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First-generation college students: Characteristics, experiences, and cognitive development

Terenzini, Springer, Yaeger, Pascarella, & Nora, 1996 / Research in Higher Education / February 1996

two happy students reading in library

This study sought answers to: (1) Do the precollege characteristics of first-generation students differ from those of traditional students? (2) Do first-generation students' college experiences differ from those of other students? (3) What are the educational consequences of any differences on first-year gains in students' reading, math, and critical thinking abilities? Answers come from 2,685 students who entered 23 institutions in Fall 1992 and completed one year of study. Although traditional students make greater net gains in reading during their first year, the two groups gain about the same degree in math and critical thinking skills seeming to result from different experiences.