Dissertation Defense by Holly G. Hoffman

Event Start DateTuesday, April 22, 2014
Mother Rosalie Hill Hall 145
Event Start Time10:00 am - 12:00 pm



     Colleges and universities have recently been under great pressure to increase
institutional graduation rates, due to a surge in consumer demand for accountability and
the use of graduation rates to determine effectiveness and funding. Many colleges may
choose to achieve higher graduation rates by simply increasing selectivity. However, this
strategy has the potential to exclude at-risk student populations, namely first generation
students, who lack a family track record of college completion and have been shown to
be less likely to graduate than continuing generation students. To allow for continued
access for first generation students, institutions have the ability to design initiatives based
on an extensive framework of salient factors identified in the literature; however, there is
a critical need to identify which factors have the greatest influence on first generation
degree attainment.
     As such, this quantitative study examined how factors influencing student success
vary for first and continuing generation students through an analysis of a nationally
representative dataset from the 2004/2009 Beginning Postsecondary Students
Longitudinal Study. Several logistic regression models were employed to identify
differences in degree completion predictors for three groups of students: first generation
students whose parents did not attend college, first generation students whose parents
attended some college and continuing generation students. Theoretical models of student
persistence and attainment informed variable selection. Results revealed differences in
the significant predictors of bachelor’s degree completion for the three groups of
students. For example, taking a rigorous high school curriculum predicted degree
completion for both groups of first generation students, but not for continuing generation
students. Consulting a college guide was a significant predictor only for students whose
parents did not attend college. Whether a sibling attended college before the student
predicted degree completion for students whose parents did not attend college and
continuing generation students. Taken together, these findings suggest predictors of
degree completion vary for first and continuing generation students and indicate a
student’s level of knowledge about the college going experience plays a role in degree
completion for first generation students. The findings support colleges and universities
developing distinct student success initiatives for these groups of students.

ContactHeather Gibb | heatherg@sandiego.edu | (619) 260-4637
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