First-Generation College Students’ Motivations to Succeed: An Analysis of Experiences With TRIO Programs Through a Self-Determination Theory Perspective

Garcia & Cuellar / Journal of First-generation Student Success / November 2023

UM Student in TRIO

TRIO programs provide educational and career support to first-generation college students. Few studies, however, examine the program aspects that contribute to students’ success. In this study, self-determination theory is used to examine the experiences of eight former participants. The findings indicate that TRIO programs create environments that support psychological growth and integration by fostering autonomy through personal growth, asking for help, and investing in one’s future; competence by acting as confidence boosters, promoting interpersonal interactions, and helping students “practice” being college students; and relatedness by providing a “built-in” support group, a place of belonging, and fostering connections with others.

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