Title

Self-Identification of Non-Cognitive Factors That Lead to Educational Success

Date of Degree

5-2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program

Education

Advisor

Dorothy Ettling

Advisor

Francis Musa Boakari

Advisor

Nancy Robbins

Advisor

Joan Velasquez

Abstract

This study utilized an ethnographic case study design methodology using in-depth interviews as the primary research strategy. The focus was on the participants’ perceptions of their experiences in the educational system, the meanings they gave and how they evaluated their experiences as they moved through that system. The study was conducted on the campuses of two small universities in the southwest United States. The participants were members of the McNair Scholars Program on these campuses. As the need for post-secondary education increases, issues of retention continue to be of importance, especially among minority populations in the U.S. The focus on “at-risk” students has stimulated discussion on how to keep these students from dropping out, concentrating on students who succeed despite the odds against their success. These students are often low-income first-generation students who have minimum preparation for college coursework and no role models for college success within their families. While academic efficacy is often associated with school success, other non-cognitive factors such as persistence, self-efficacy, resiliency, and social support, have also been identified as factors in students’ success. While academic efficacy is often associated with school success, other non-cognitive factors such as persistence, self-efficacy, resiliency, and social support, have also been identified as factors in students’ success. Four dominant themes emerged from the analysis of the interviews conducted: internal factors, external/social factors, resiliency factors, and relationship and responsibility to others. All of the participants identified persistence as an important factor in their educational success. Mentoring and having a support network was mentioned the most often by the participants as being of significant value in their educational success. Resiliency and giving back to others were also identified by the participants in relationship to other factors.

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