First-Generation Male College Students in Community-Based Education: A Mixed Methods Study
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The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to investigate the participation of first-generation male college students in community-based education activities. As a group, first-generation male students are at a higher risk of academic disengagement and leaving college, as compared to most other demographic populations. Community-based education strategies, such as service-learning, have the potential to engage this group both academically and psychosocially; yet current data suggests that they are least likely to engage in these types of activities. This study utilized an ecological framework, in conjunction with theories of engagement and persistence as well as intersectionality and male gender identity development, to explore participants' community engagement experiences. The preliminary phase of the study utilized a secondary data analysis strategy to examine patterns of first-generation males' community service participation, with data from the 2004/09 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Survey (BPS:04/09), conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Qualitative data is based upon fifteen interviews with first-generation male students and staff who had participated in community-based education as undergraduates. A follow-up logistic regression analysis was conducted to test a predictive model of consistent service participation for first-generation males at four-year institutions over a six-year period. Findings highlight themes regarding the impact that community-based involvement had on study participants, how their motivations were tied to their identities as first-generation males, and how institutional elements mediate participation. Primary factors influencing participation included financial and time constraints, gender socialization, and cultural perspectives on the notion of community service. Findings also suggest that community-based learning, as an educationally purposeful activity, contributed to the engagement of interview participants, particularly around four developmental areas: 1) academic and career, 2) psychosocial, 3) personal and spiritual, and 4) sociopolitical. Regression results identify a variety of person, context, and time variables that are associated with first-generation male community service participation. This study makes a contribution to the literatures on first-generation students, college men's development, and community engagement by using a mixed-method design to explore the intersection of these topics at a macro- as well as micro-level. Findings have implications for multiple programs and divisions across a range of institutional types.
- Education - Seattle