Perceptions of School Belongingness and Goal Motivation in First-Generation Students

Thibodeaux & Samson / Journal of the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition / July 2021

Students walking on campus

College learning depends on belongingness and personal motivation. First-generation (FG) college students are at risk for lower belongingness and motivation compared to non-FG students. The authors examined self-reported belongingness with the Psychological Sense of School Membership scale, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation with the Motivational Strategies for Learning Questionnaire in FG (n = 138) and non-FG (n = 100) college students at a regional university. There was no significant difference between the two groups on belongingness and extrinsic motivation, and there were marginally higher levels of intrinsic motivation, on average, in FG students (t 220.264 = -1.971, p =.05). Further examination revealed higher belongingness was related to higher intrinsic motivation for all students, but only for the FG group did extrinsic motivation relate to belongingness. The authors recommend researchers examine belongingness and the potentially higher levels of belongingness and motivation in academic communities with a larger FG student population.