Development of the Coping Ahead Intervention for Latina First-Generation College Students



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Background: Academic achievement among Latina students has improved rapidly for college enrollment, but degree completion has not. Many of these Latina students are first-generation college students, with neither parent attending college. Without a role model at home with first-hand experience to relate to the struggles of college, providing guidance may help them cope with stressful situations and build confidence. Purpose: Study 1 focused on developing four lessons in the Coping Ahead Intervention to help first semester Latina first-generation college students by targeting optimism, coping strategies, college self-efficacy, and psychological well-being. Study 2 focused on gathering data about differences these malleable factors of resilience among students of different ethnicities and generational status. Research Questions: RQ 1: Among the participants in the Coping Ahead Intervention, were there differences in mean scores in resilience, optimism, college self-efficacy, coping strategies, and psychological well-being before and after the intervention? RQ 2: How did Latina first-generation college students describe stressful situations in their lives that they can change by using the Coping Ahead skills? What potential assets did these students use to compensate for situational adversities? RQ 3: How did the Latina first-generation college students describe their experiences in the Coping Ahead Intervention? RQ 4: Among college students of different ethnicities, generational status, and the interaction effect, were there differences in mean scores between resilience, optimism, college self-efficacy, coping strategies, and psychological well-being? Methods: Study 1. Using a pretest-posttest design, responses were analyzed by using quantitative and qualitative methods. Lessons were adapted for college students from Linehan’s ABC PLEASE emotion regulation skill and Seligman’s positive psychology research. The sequence of lessons was to identify and “cope ahead” for stressful situations in college, increase confidence, identify goals in college, and encourage self-care. In Study 2, responses from 279 female undergraduates were analyzed using two-way MANOVA, descriptive statistics, correlation analyses, and ANOVAs. Results: Study 1. Three students completed four lessons and surveys. The stressful situations included procrastinating, preparing for exams, and connecting with others on campus. Their assets were often grounded in culture, resilience, and social capital in their relationships at home and at school. Study 2. The omnibus MANOVA results showed no significant differences in mean scores across ethnicity and generational status. Conclusion: The participants reported the Coping Ahead Intervention was qualitatively useful in coping with stressful situations, improving relationships, and improving self-acceptance, but not statistically significant in most subscales.



First-generation college students, Resilience, Intervention development