The Mediating Effects of Student Services on Engagement Among First-Generation and Transfer Students Who Use Disability Services at Community Colleges

Zilvinskis / Community College Review / October 2021

The purpose of this research is to explore the way use of student services can mediate engagement among first-generation and transfer students who use disability services at community colleges. The following research questions guided the current study: (1) At community colleges, how does frequency of use of student support services significantly relate to engagement among students who use disability services? (2) For first-generation and transfer students with disabilities, in what way does frequency of use of these services mediate engagement among this population? Using Community College Survey of Student Engagement data, the relationship between frequency of use of student services and engagement behaviors was measured for 7,441 students using disability services. Through structural equation modeling, mediation effects of use of services on engagement for first-generation and transfer students with disabilities at community colleges were measured for academic challenge, support for learners, and student-faculty interaction. Accounting for other student background characteristics, academic advising and career counseling were directly related to these measures and additive effects of this second service held for first-generation students with disabilities, but not transfers. These findings contribute to understanding which student services are successful pathways to increased engagement among students who use disability services. This research complements previous scholarship on increasing access of these services for this group, while suggesting further research may be conducted to understand quality of experience among student services.