Historically, first-generation college students (FGCS), students whose parents have not attended college nor earned a degree, are more likely to have lower college retention rates and are less likely to complete their academic programs in a timely manner. Despite this, there are many FGCS who do succeed and it is imperative to learn what fuels their success. The theoretical perspectives that framed this study included: hidden curricula, resiliency theory and community cultural wealth. Drawing from these perspectives, this qualitative research study consisted of a 10-week photo-elicitation facilitation and reflection group in which participants identified aspects of the hidden curricula encountered in the university that were challenging in their educational journeys and guided them in identifying the sources of strength (i.e. protective factors) that they channeled to overcome those challenges. The participants for this study were selected using a stratified purposeful sampling approach. The participants identified as Latina, low-income FGCS who were on good academic standing and majored in two of the largest academic units at Arizona State University's Tempe campus- the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Fulton College of Engineering. This study used participants’ testimonios (critical, reflexive narratives), photo-elicitation images, student journal responses, focus group dialogue and Facebook group posts to better understand the resiliency of Latina, low-income FGCS at ASU. Using grounded theory analysis, this study revealed the following,
Latina, low-income FGCS:
- Primarily define and develop their academic resiliency outside of the classroom and use social capital connections with peers and aspirational capital connections to their future to be successful inside the classroom.
- Are heavily driven to succeed in the university setting because of their family's support and because they view their presence in college as a unique opportunity that they are grateful for.
- Operationalize their academic resiliency through a combination of hard work and sacrifice, as well as an active implementation of resilience tactics.
- Are motivated to pass on their resiliency capital to other students like them and perceive their pursuit of a college education as a transformative action for themselves, their families and their communities.
The goal of this exploratory study is to learn how undocumented immigrants remain resilient by adopting new strategies to survive and thrive despite confronting challenges as they legally justify their presence in the United States. This study will focus on three research questions: first, what are the demographic factors that describe undocumented immigrant family resiliency in the United States? Second, how are social service providers; perceptions of the challenges faced by their clients modified by the services they provide? Third, how do resiliency factors identified by their social service providers allow undocumented immigrants to overcome the challenges of criminalization in the United States? The theoretical framework for this study was based on two approaches: first, a symbolic interaction approach which was specifically inspired by Benedict Anderson's classic Imagined Communities (1983, 2006). The second approach is Ecological Risk and Resiliency. This study used mixed methods of research: interviews and descriptive analysis. The qualitative data was drawn from ten social service providers from a faith-based agency, and from a narrative analysis of participants enrolled in an ESL program (English as a Second Language). The subjects for the quantitative design were drawn from a group of undocumented first-generation Hispanic immigrants who received social services during the year 2009 from the same faith-based agency. In summary, this exploration discovered that immigrants show great ability for imaginatively developing strategies in order to survive and thrive under their difficult circumstances. Furthermore, undocumented immigrant survival does not completely depend upon food and shelter and even money, but also on a sense of well being. Noted was that women undocumented immigrants show greater resiliency than their male counterparts. Also discovered was that social services do make a difference in the lives of undocumented immigrants but not all social service providers are fully trained and prepared to assist them beyond normal standards. In conclusion, the Hispanic undocumented immigrant displays remarkable resiliency despite tremendous obstacles and personal difficulties and this resiliency could only improve by social service providers' improved understanding of their needs and personal resources.
This study examined four research questions investigating relationships among the experience of trauma, identity development, distress, and positive change. There were 908 participants in the study, ranging in age from 18 to 24 which is known as the period of emerging adulthood. Participants completed an online survey regarding their exposure to trauma and reactions to these experiences. The first research question examined the experience of trauma for the sample. The second question examined group differences among the participant's identity status, gender, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnostic status on the hypothesized variables. In general, comparisons among the four identity status groups found participants who experienced greater identity exploration (diffused and moratorium) experienced more distress, whereas the identity status groups that reported greater identity commitments (foreclosed and achieved) were associated with positive change. Similar findings were found for PTSD diagnostic status indicating more distress and identity exploration for participants with the diagnosis and more positive change and identity commitments for participants without the diagnosis. Female participants were found to experience more PTS symptoms, centrality of the trauma event, and positive growth than males. Examination of the relationships between trauma severity and posttraumatic growth revealed an inverted U-shaped relationship (quadratic) that was a significant improvement from the linear model. An S-shaped relationship (cubic) was found for the relationship between trauma exposure and posttraumatic growth. Regression analyses found the centrality of the trauma event to one's identity predicted identity distress above and beyond the experience of trauma. In addition, identity distress and the centrality of the trauma contributed to the variance for identity exploration, while only identity distress contributed to identity commitments. Finally, identity development significantly predicted positive change above and beyond, identity distress, centrality of the trauma event, and the experience of trauma. Collectively, these results found both distress and growth to be related to the experience of trauma. Distress within one's identity can contribute to difficulties in the psychosocial stage of identity development among emerging adults. However, the resolution of identity exploration towards commitments to goals, roles, and beliefs, can help trauma survivors experience resilience and growth after stressful experiences.
Researchers have postulated that math academic achievement increases student success in college (Lee, 2012; Silverman & Seidman, 2011; Vigdor, 2013), yet 80% of universities and 98% of community colleges require many of their first-year students to be placed in remedial courses (Bettinger & Long, 2009). Many high school graduates are entering college ill prepared for the rigors of higher education, lacking understanding of basic and important principles (ACT, 2012). The desire to increase academic achievement is a wide held aspiration in education and the idea of adapting instruction to individuals is one approach to accomplish this goal (Lalley & Gentile, 2009a). Frequently, adaptive learning environments rely on a mastery learning approach, it is thought that when students are afforded the opportunity to master the material, deeper and more meaningful learning is likely to occur. Researchers generally agree that the learning environment, the teaching approach, and the students' attributes are all important to understanding the conditions that promote academic achievement (Bandura, 1977; Bloom, 1968; Guskey, 2010; Cassen, Feinstein & Graham, 2008; Changeiywo, Wambugu & Wachanga, 2011; Lee, 2012; Schunk, 1991; Van Dinther, Dochy & Segers, 2011). The present study investigated the role of college students' affective attributes and skills, such as academic competence and academic resilience, in an adaptive mastery-based learning environment on their academic performance, while enrolled in a remedial mathematics course. The results showed that the combined influence of students' affective attributes and academic resilience had a statistically significant effect on students' academic performance. Further, the mastery-based learning environment also had a significant effect on their academic competence and academic performance.