Self-Regulated Learning Characteristics of First Generation College Students
Antonelli, Janeen R. S.
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The purpose of this study was to explore the characteristics of first generation (FG) college students in terms of the SRL components upon which many college student success courses (SSC) are designed. Using an ex post facto research design, the author analyzed the archival records of 914 full-time degree-seeking undergraduate students who had self-enrolled in a required SSC at a large, demographically diverse university over six consecutive semesters (Fall 2012 - Spring 2015). Defined as a student for whom neither parent had any type or quantity of education beyond high school, FG college students (n = 288) comprised 31.5% of the total data sample. The web-based Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI) 2nd edition was used to measure students’ SRL characteristics by generational status at course entry. Analyses were conducted in two phases. First, descriptive statistical analyses of the archived LASSI data revealed that FG college students did not score universally higher or lower than non-FG college students. Moreover, both FG and non-FG undergraduate students scored lower than 50% of the national norming sample on most scales, suggesting several productive areas for intervention. Second, findings from ten independent samples t tests revealed that FG students were significantly more interested in and had better attitudes toward achieving academic success than non-FG students, though both groups scored at a level indicating an area of relative weakness. No other statistically significant differences were found. Results suggest that college students’ FG status and its relationship to SRL are complex. These findings have important implications for students, administrators, policymakers, and practitioners. Strengths and limitations of the study are discussed and a professional development action plan is advanced for the purpose of improving postsecondary outcomes and opportunities for all students.