Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Philip O. Pendley
Linda Carvalho Cooley
Purpose: The purpose of this comparative phenomenological study was to describe how the impact of engagement factors between high achieving Central Valley, California first generation community college students enrolled in college honors programs and high achieving Central Valley first generation community college students who are not enrolled in college honors programs compares with regard to engagement factors of interaction with faculty, interaction with student peers, time on the college campus, participation in oral and written reports, the application of critical thinking skills, and other student identified factors related to disruption in their lives on their academic achievement in college.
Methodology: A comparative phenomenological research design was selected for this study. The qualitative method was used to gather data using semi-structured questions in individual interviews to get the students’ perspective on their engagement and its impact on their academic achievement. After qualitative collection, data were compared between the two groups of students.
Findings: Three major findings were identified as a result of this study: First, the lack of a consistent definition for first generation students created difficulty on accurate reporting and analysis of this student population. Access to honors programs for first generation students was also found to be challenging, and, finally, there was no statistical difference in the engagement between honors and non-honors student participants.
Conclusions: The study based its conclusions directly from the findings. The lack of a consistent definition for first generation students creates impediments to serve this group fully. Additionally, first generation students experience both perceptual and structural barriers to enrolling in honors programs in community colleges. There is no discernable difference in the experience of engagement between first generation students enrolled in honors programs and first generation students not enrolled in honors programs.
Recommendation: Several recommendations for action were proposed to serve more fully first generation students both in honors programs and in community colleges to increase their engagement. An elimination of competing definitions for first generation students was called for, as well as an expansion of possibilities for first generation students by mitigating perceptual and structural barriers to honors programs.
Berg, Emily, "Someone Like Me: The Impact of Engagement on High Achieving First Generation Community College Students in California’s Central Valley" (2020). Dissertations. 352.