Supporting First-Generation Students’ Adjustment to College With High-Impact Practices

Conefrey, 2018 / / October 2018

This qualitative case study describes some of the issues faced by incoming first-generation college students at a private, 4-year institution in the northwest. Using constructs drawn from social cognitive theory and social cognitive career theory, it explores how high-impact practices such as learning communities, writing-intensive courses, and ePortfolios might impact first-generation students’ adjustment during their first year of college. The findings of the research on students’ writing in their first-year composition course suggest that the cumulative impact of engaging in multiple high-impact practices improves students’ literacy and study skills. In addition, these educational practices appear to increase students’ self-appraisal of their academic abilities in general and their institutional commitment. As a consequence of their increased self-efficacy and engagement, this study suggests that students are more likely to experience better academic outcomes, leading them to persist in their studies and be retained after their first year at college.