Influence of First Generation Status on Students' Perceptions of Faculty

Hutchison, Micol
Publication Year:
College Quarterly

While quantitative research has determined that first-generation college students (FGS) are less likely to interact with faculty than are their non-FGS peers, this qualitative study examines how incoming first-year college students, both FGS and non-FGS, perceive faculty-student interaction and whether they consider it important. Addressing different types of interaction with college instructors, both in-class and out-of-class, participants across a range of FGS status shared their views through surveys, individual interviews, and focus groups. Focusing specifically on incoming first year students, this study finds that FGS described emerging comfort with faculty over the course of their first months of college. After completing a pre-college summer program, the FGS described a greater increase in their comfort level with faculty than did non-FGS, indicating that FGS were adapting to what Pierre Bourdieu calls the "field" of college and acquiring cultural capital that positively influenced their ease with faculty-student interactions.

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