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TRIO Works: The Impact of Student Support Services on the Career Self-Efficacy of First-generation Students

James Winfield Ed.D., Southern New Hampshire University / Opportunity Matters: Journal of Access and Opportunity in Education / December 2022


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This action research study analyzed career and major choice perceptions of low-income first-generation college students or FGCS using career self-efficacy as the primary metric. This study used a mixed-methods methodology to gain a deeper understanding of barriers and factors that impact students’ career and major decisions. Using a pretest-posttest design, participants’ self-efficacy levels were assessed using the Career Decision Self-Efficacy Assessment - Short Form (CDSE-SF). After analyzing the students’ performance in the five sub-scales of this instrument, these data were used to inform one-on-one interviews and focus groups. All participants were first-year students enrolled in a federally funded TRIO Student Support Services program. This study aimed to examine the impact of TRIO SSS Programs on FGCS major and career decisions and their exploration process. Findings from the study support that financial support, supportive advising, and mental health resources are vital to provide effective support for FGCS as they pursue and achieve their career ambitions.

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