Increasing the Self-Efficacy and College Graduation Rates of First-Generation, Low-Income Students
Alota, Bernice Tan
Prior research illustrates that many of the successful supports provided to FGLI students to increase academic achievement are designed to increase students’ self-efficacy, sense of belonging, and social and cultural capital. The most successful programs were those that provided students with a combination of mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, and support for emotional and/or physiological states (Cabrera et al., 2013; Capa‐Aydin et al., 2018; Dennis et al., 2005; Dinther et al., 2011; Dortch, 2018; Engle & Tinto, 2008; Nunez-Alvarez & Uekusa, 2012; Pitre & Pitre, 2009; Rodriguez et al., 2015; Sanchez, 2011; Whitmire, 2019). Nativity Prep Academy (NPA) is an independent, private middle school in San Diego, California, that serves first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students from 6th grade through college completion. Upon completion of NPA’s middle school program, NPA continues to support its students during high school and college through a Graduate Support Program (GSP). NPA recognizes the barriers FGLI students face toward attaining a college degree and their GSP workshops strive to ameliorate these challenges by offering experiences that provide them with the support, skills, and knowledge needed to confidently persist toward their educational goals. Currently, Nativity Prep alumni in high school are offered weekly GSP workshops during the academic year and an enrichment program during the summer. The president of NPA and the director of NPA’s GSP would like to increase their students’ college graduation rates. They would also like to increase high school GSP attendance rates to at least 70% and ensure students perceive the workshops as relevant to their goal of college degree attainment. The purpose of this capstone study was to understand the extent to which NPA’s GSP workshops have learning targets related to the four sources of self-efficacy in order to identify opportunities to expand support for student self-efficacy in the NPA GSPs. To understand these workshops holistically, I also gathered information that indicated current attendance trends, students’ experiences with the GSP workshops, and students’ perceptions of the value of these workshops in light of college degree attainment.