Increasing first-generation students' access to high-impact practices

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Theresa Ann Cruz Paul (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Emily Virtue

Abstract: The lack of first-generation student (FGS) involvement in high-impact practices (HIPs) is critical in addressing college students' social mobility and economic equity in the 21st century. Participation in HIPs can lead to academic, personal, and professional gains resulting in more competitive applications for future employment and graduate schools. At Western Carolina University, HIPs are disorganized and scattered, leading to confusion for students and faculty members about the process. Compounding this issue is deficit thinking and unconscious bias about FGS that advisors hold, which can affect the rates at which advisors refer FGS to be involved in HIPs. To address this issue, I implemented a video and marketing intervention for faculty and staff advisors to address their role in supporting FGS in HIPs and how bias remediation strategies address unconscious bias and deficit thinking. In addition, I created targeted marketing for FGS to demystify the HIP process. The success of this initiative was measured through HIP involvement rates, click/engagement/website traffic rates, video engagement rates, and a faculty pre-and post-test survey. Overall findings indicated that the marketing for students increased first-generation and continuing-generation participation in HIPs. The video marketing for advisors resulted in a statistically significant increase in the knowledge about HIPs and their likelihood of referring students to HIPS. However, the findings were insignificant in lowering FGS bias or increasing bias awareness amongst faculty members. The project aimed to increase FGS involvement in HIPs by 10% with the long-term goal of having a proportional representation of FGS in HIPs at Western Carolina University. This goal was not met. However, there was growth in the participation of FGS for all HIPs indicating that the change initiatives were having a positive effect. The findings from this project are helpful to other universities seeking to increase access to HIPs for FGS.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
barriers, first-generation, high-impact practice, higher education, marketing
Western Carolina University
First-generation college students
Education, Higher
Faculty advisors
Intervention (Administrative procedure)

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