The influence of social capital and community cultural wealth on college completion: Narratives of first generation adult learners
O’Neal, Pamela K.
AdvisorPatterson, Jean A.
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Adult learners and first generation students are less likely to persist to graduation than their traditional counterparts, however, some do manage to succeed in college and graduate (McCall et al., 2018; Means & Pyne, 2017). Studies indicate that while both group persist at lower rates, those who have gone on to graduate often cite having resources and personal support to help them achieve their academic goals (Zacharakis et al., 2011). Using narrative inquiry, this study explored the lived experiences of six first generation adult learners who graduated from a public research university. Bridging and bonding social capital was used to examine the stories of three white first generation adult learners. Community cultural wealth offered a useful framework for examining the stories of first generation adult learner students of color. Their stories were unique in many aspects, yet they shared some themes from childhood to graduation. These themes include struggles growing up; doing academically well in both high school and college; difficult life situations; troubles paying for college; and a tenacious attitude toward graduation. The first generation adult learner graduates relied less on bridging social capital than they did on bonding social capital. First generation adult learner students of color used their community cultural wealth in different ways to persist to graduation. Implications for university practitioners include having in depth conversations with students. Implications for university leadership includes a shift away from the university focus on finances to caring about the student. Implications for students include helping students understand their strengths that might not be recognized as such. Developing a strength based test, using the tenants of cultural community wealth for first generation adult learner students of color, could help those students see the strengths they possess and thus, empower them to not only graduate, but be successful students as well.
Thesis (Ed.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Intervention Services and Leadership in Education