Announcement of Ph.D. in Higher Education Dissertation Proposal Defense Gina Tigri: “Becoming a College Student: Exploring how Classroom Experiences Shape First-Year, First-Generation Students’ Transitions into University Life”

10:00 am - 12:00 pm

The first year of college is a critical time for students, as their early experiences can determine the path of their educational journey. Students are most at-risk for dropping out from college during their first year, and first-generation students have higher rates of departure than their continuing-generation peers. Student sense of belonging, identity development, and academic engagement have all been identified as important factors in supporting retention and enhancing the first-year experience. However, little research explores the interdependent nature of these various aspects of student life. This qualitative case study offers a new way of conceptualizing first-year transitions into university life using a Communities of Practice (CoP) theoretical framework. CoP theory is a theory of social learning that emphasizes the intersections of participation, identity, and belonging in a learning community. Guided by this theoretical framework, this study will explore how learning experiences in college courses impact first-year, first-generation students’ engagement, sense of belonging, and identity development, and the ways in which these factors influence their trajectories in college.

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