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Article Analysis III

Understanding The Early Integration Experiences Of Frist-Generation College Students

Elizabeth Lerczak

SPA 502

Professor OLeary

Concordia University

November 29, 2015



Because first-generation college students have lower retention and graduation rates, this study

focused on their early integration experiences. Specifically, multiple regressions were conducted

to examine the predictors of social integration, academic integration, institutional satisfaction,

and homesick-related distress, using Tinto's (1993) longitudinal attrition model. Educational

commitment, on-campus environment, academic behaviors, and expected level of involvement

are highlighted. Results were consistent with non-first-generation research, suggesting that first-

generation students' integration may be similar to other college students. Implications for

practice and research are discussed.

Keywords: first-generation, student integration, undergraduates, early integration


Article Analysis III

Understanding The Early Integration Experiences Of Frist-Generation College Students

Various studies have been conducted on first-generation college students. This study

conducted by Sherry A Woosley and Dustin K Shepler focuses on first year first-generation

college students early integration experiences. Data collected through a first year student survey,

given within the first three weeks of the Fall 2007 semester at a medium-size Midwest public

university. The data collected categorized into four criterion variables based on Tintos (1993)

longitudinal attrition model. The four criterion variables were (a) social integration (b) academic

integration (c) institutional satisfaction (d) homesick-related distress. Although the focus of this

study on first year first-generation early integration experiences, the issues addressed in the

article apply to all first year students.

First-Generation Student Challenges

First-generation college students pose a higher risk of dropping out. There are many

factors that lead to students who drop out, such as family support and early integration methods.

Three categories for a first-generation students potential success or failure are social concerns,

academic factors and pre-entry characteristics. Social integration can challenge for first-

generation students. Social environment impacts a first-generation students ability to integrate,

obtain support, and achieve academically at an institution. First-generation students often feel

overwhelmed balancing academic demands as well as family, work and social obligations.

Leading to lower involvement in student activities and non-course related peer interaction.

Academic factors first-generation students face an unrealistic expectation to the reality of the

work required at the college level. Students often are academically challenged once they reach

the college level. First-generation students have lower grade expectations because of their

academic skill uncertainty. A lack in self-confidence and academic preparation make success

difficult for first-generation students. Pre-entry characteristics such as family support,

educational goals, financial concerns, and high school support build a foundation for college

students. First-generation students lack parents who understand the process of adjusting to

college life, financial concerns, and knowledge of college activities as well as limited college roll

models. Because of these issues first-generation students have hurdles to overcome to achieve

college success.

Woosley and Shepler 2007 Study

Little research has been done on early integration methods among first generation college

students. Woosley and Shepler sought to answer weather Tintos (1993) variables adequately

described first-generation student integration and if so which of Tintos variables most

prevalently predict integration. This study used data from one institution from a medium-sized

Midwest public university. All first-time first-year students were sent a survey via their school

emails along with two email reminders to complete the survey. Of the 3,581 incoming first-time

first-year students 3,051 responded to the survey. Because this study based on first-generation

students 1,019 of the students classified as first-generation because of two questions asked in the

survey based on their parents educational background. Only students who completed the entire

survey were included in the final sample. Thus, data from 804 first-generation students were

included in the study. Of the 804 36% men and 64% women. From the final data sample 87%

classified as White or Caucasian and 13% as unknown, biracial, or another racial/ethnic

minority. This institution student policy requires first year students to live on campus or with

immediate family; only two students lived off campus leaving 802 students living in residence


Making Achievement Possible (MAP Works) a national survey used by more than 80

institutions in the United States was used as the instrument for the data. The MAP Works

program is designed to collect information about a students goals, expectations, and early college

experiences. By completing the survey students are rewarded with a personalized feedback on

campus programs and resources to improve their academic performance and increase social

integration. Based on Tinto, three levels of variables identified. First, pre-entry variables were

included: gender and admissions test scores. Second, commitment to higher education was

included. Finally, the third (block) included on-campus environment, involvement in campus

organizations, and basic academic behaviors (Woosley & Shepler, 2011, p.705).

After reading the data the four variables identified based on Tintos variables (a) social

integration (b) academic integration (c) institution satisfaction and (d) homesick-related distress.

Social integration measured by a four questions on peer connection, including if students found

others they share common interests with and enjoy spending time with. Academic integration

was based on five questions covering the degree to which students motivation to complete their

academic work and how satisfied with their academic lives. Institution satisfaction three

questions on overall university experience and weather the student would choose the institution

again if they had to do it over again. Homesickness-related distress addressed how often students

thought about going home and degree to which they regretted leaving home.


Based on the results of the survey, key elements identified in producing a positive early

integration experience for first-generation students. Commitment and campus environment were

the most prevalent elements for social integration, academic integration, and institution

satisfaction. Homesick-related distress data found gender, admission test scores and campus

environment to be the most important for understanding these challenges. Therefore the

institutions commitment to integrate new students as well as the students commitment to

integration to college life depicted the amount of satisfaction they felt. Homesickness happens to

a lot of students it is interesting that gender and admission test scores indicate homesickness.

The findings of this study suggest further study based on a few factors. One of which is

the lack of comparison to non first-generation students. The survey took the samples of only

first-generation students and did not compare them to other first year students who might

produce similar or different results making integration issues less of a first-generation issue and

more of a first year student problem. Also this study conducted at a medium-sized Midwest

institution did not show high diversity in the first-generation students. It would add to the study

of first-generation integration by testing a more diverse campus.


This study of the early integration first year first-generation students experience,

produced challenges educators can address to make students experience more beneficial.

The survey collected data on all first year students within the first three weeks of the Fall

2007 semester, but only first-generation students were analyzed. Based on Tinto (1993) four-

criterion variables were discussed (a) social integration (b) academic integration (c)

institutional satisfaction (d) homesick-related distress. Early integration experiences

expressed issues based on the intuitions and students commitment to integrating early.

Further research recommended to sample more diverse institutions.


This study in regards to the importance of early integration among first-generation

students provides extensive information. As well as background information to be more


attentive to first-generation students, such as encouraging parental support among first-

generation students. Providing a campus environment where students can connect and

develop friendships is something I will strive to do professionally. By providing living a

living atmosphere where students can study as well as connect with their piers is vital to

student support. By addressing the needs of students in residence halls such as homesickness,

feelings of academic inadequacy, and social isolation residence directors and their assistance

can create a positive and comforting environment. Students regardless of parental education,

struggle with similar issues making early integration important for all students. Early

integration through welcome programs, student organizations, faculty advisors, student

orientation and other student affairs professionals can help ease the gap when transitioning to

college life.


Woosley, S. A., P.H.D., & Shepler, D. K., M.A. (2011). UNDERSTANDING THE EARLY


STUDENTS. College Student Journal, 45(4), 700-714. Retrieved from