Alexandria Digital Research Library

A case study of an intensive retention program for at-Risk, first-generation, first-year university students

Bernal, Jesse Matthew
Degree Supervisor:
Jenny Cook-Gumperz
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Education, Higher
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Education
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013

Research on persistence in higher education identifies the importance of social and academic integration, involvement, and engagement and highlights the importance of the student's beginning years at a college or university in developing institutional commitment. This commitment increases student integration and therefore persistence. First-generation and low-income students face more challenges than traditional students as they enter and persist through college. This case study examines the impact of a retention program designed to increase student social and academic engagement and lessen financial barriers that may pose significant challenges for historically non-traditional students. The program supports 57 low-income and first-generation first-year students who received failing grades their first semester at the University.

The program provided specialized opportunities for participants and allowed students to participate in a textbook rental program to lessen out-of-pocket expenses. Students' program participation, courses, and grades were tracked throughout the year. Interviews consisting of individual and group meetings as well as weekly student journals were analyzed. Participation in programming varied by participants. Findings indicate that students who participate at higher levels in activities exclusively offered to program participants exhibited higher levels of change in academic achievement and social integration than those who participated at lower levels. Students who participated at higher levels of program activities had larger increases in GPA after the intervention and participated in non-program co-curricular activities at higher rates than other participants when controlled for previous levels of participation, previous GPA, and individual characteristics.

Interviews of program and University administrators and faculty involved with program participants were also analyzed. Faculty and staff highlighted the impact of academic integration activities over social integration. Ongoing impact of the program did not appear significant when reviewing student academic progress one year after the start of the intervention.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (97 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Jesse Bernal
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