Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


First Advisor

Dr. Lawrence Scharmann

Date of this Version

Spring 4-2019


Marianna Burks, Establishing Enhanced Learning Outcomes in Science For First Generational Undergraduate College Students. Research project, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. April 2019.


Copyright (c) 2019 Marianna Burks


First-generation students represent an increasing percentage of the demographic for college and university enrollment at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Since 2001, results from the National Center for Education Statistics Longitudinal Study, indicates ‘higher percentages of first-generations college students attended public postsecondary institutions-76 vs. 72%’ (Redford & Hoyer, 2017). There is insufficient research, however, concerning how first-generation students’ needs are different, even unique, from those students who are second- generation and beyond attending college (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2017). Since this increase of students enrolling in post-secondary education, ‘understanding the needs of first-generation students is imperative more now than ever’ (Gibbons and Woodside, 2014). The intent of this study is to determine the effectiveness of pedagogical methods applicable to the needs of first-generation college students. Successful implementation of selected pedagogical methods will optimistically establish enhanced student learning outcomes for first-generation students. This proposed research design will be a mixed methods study, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Quantitative data will consist of both pre- and post-test scores measuring self-confidence towards science learning. Pretest data will provide an initial comparison of first-generational students with their general population counterparts in terms of similarities and differences. Qualitatively, the study will utilize ethnographical examination to frame interview questions and shape the choice of pedagogical methods employed – this is to include interview data, select narratives, pedagogical artifacts, and student work samples. In addition, this analysis will utilize phenomenological interview methodology to frame first generation students’ self-confidence, self-efficacy towards science and science learning.