Department of Educational Administration


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Koopmann, A.F. (2014) A Model for First-Generation Students Least Likely to Engage in High-Impact Practices: A Mixed Methods Study (A Dissertation). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Professor James V. Griesen. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Ann F. Koopmann


This study examined the use of a model of required participation in high-impact practices on first-generation students who were undecided in their college major choice. This study used a concurrent mixed methods strategy to understand the effect of required participation on academic self-concept, student adaptation, academic achievement and their valuation of participation. In this study the Self Perception Profile for College Students, the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire and semester grade point averages were used to measure the relationship between required participation and academic self-concept, adaptation to college and academic achievement. At the same time, the students’ perceptions of change in their academic practices and their evaluations of the seminar were explored using survey instruments.

Students least likely to engage were defined as full-time, first-generation students who had not identified a major and indicated low levels of anticipated engagement in the collegiate experience. Both the treatment and control groups were college students attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln beginning the fall of 2013.

The treatment designed for this study was a first-year, one-semester seminar designed with an extended orientation to the university and a cognitive approach to college major choice. The treatment was itself a high-impact practice and consisted of required participation in additional high-impact practices. Students participated in mentor led groups, faculty interactions, writing exercises and small group discussions among other course content. Central to the treatment was the discussion regarding students’ responsibility for their own education.

The study found no significant increase in academic self-concept, levels of adaptation to college or higher academic achievement. It also found students valued the seminar experience and increased in the ability to match interests to career and major choices.

In conclusion, the study reveals a model of required participation for students least likely to engage in high-impact practices. It offers a method for analysis that can be used in future studies, a discussion of current practices and implications for future research.

Advisor: James V. Griesen