Service-Learning and Persistence of Low-Income, First-Generation College Students: An Exploratory Study

By Yeh, Theresa Ling | Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Service-Learning and Persistence of Low-Income, First-Generation College Students: An Exploratory Study


Yeh, Theresa Ling, Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning


"If I hadn't started working with this program, I wouldn't be here right now. I woulda dropped out a long time ago."--Jose

At the time he made this statement, Jose was a junior at one of the most selective private universities in the United States. But unlike many of his fellow students, Jose's parents are agricultural workers who barely finished middle school and whose annual family income is less than the cost of one year's tuition at his college. During the summer after his first year in college, Jose got involved in a university service-learning program, working with local high school students in a low-income neighborhood. By his own admission, his involvement with this program was one of the main reasons he graduated with a college degree from this institution, rather than dropping out and going back home.

Having a college degree has grown considerably more important over the last several decades, as society shifts from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy and as the earnings gap between high school and college graduates grows (Levin, Belfield, Muennig, & Rouse, 2007). Yet attrition remains a critical problem for colleges and universities, as roughly 50 percent of students who enter postsecondary education do not complete a degree (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Of particular concern, low-income first-generation students (LIFG)--whose parents are not affluent and did not go to college--consistently drop out of postsecondary institutions at higher rates than middle- to upper-income students with college-educated parents (Ishitani & DesJardins, 2002). For example, first-generation students at 4-year institutions are twice as likely as students whose parents had a bachelor's degree to drop out of college before their second year. Even accounting for factors such as working full-time, financial aid status, gender, and race/ethnicity, first-generation status is still a significant predictor of a student leaving before his or her second year (Chen, 2005).

Retention, Persistence, and LIFG Students

Over the last several decades, numerous studies have explored factors impacting the college persistence of LIFG students. Reasons cited for the disparity in educational attainment range from academic underpreparation, discrimination, feelings of alienation, and difficulty adjusting to campus culture, to work and family responsibilities, financial and structural barriers, and lack of support (Ramos-Sanchez & Nichols, 2007; Terenzini, Springer, Yaeger, Pascarella, & Nora, 1996). Accordingly, educators search for strategies to address these obstacles, which invariably lead to educational and societal inequity.

While many statistics are available on the characteristics and lower success rates of LIFG students as well as the barriers they face, fewer studies examine the factors and strategies that contribute to their college success (Pike & Kuh, 2005). One early study (Richardson & Skinner, 1992) identified student strategies for postsecondary achievement that involved "scaling down" the physical, social, and psychological dimensions of going to college by finding comfortable spaces on campus, developing peer and faculty/staff support networks, and centering their experience around a particular program or department. Leadership experience, ability to cope with racism, and demonstrated community service were also found to be positive predictors of GPA for first-generation students of color (Ting, 2003).

Especially interesting, the influence that a particular experience has on an academic or cognitive outcome appears to differ for first-generation versus other students. For instance, first-generation students benefited more from engaging in peer interactions and participation in academic/classroom and extracurricular activities than other students, in terms of their critical thinking, degree plans, internal locus of attribution for academic success, learning for self-understanding, and preference for higher-order cognitive tasks (Pascarella, Pierson, Wolniak, & Terenzini, 2004). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Service-Learning and Persistence of Low-Income, First-Generation College Students: An Exploratory Study
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.