Engaging First Generation Students
A student whose parents did not attend college or did not earn a college degree is considered first generation. This is a rapidly growing population at UCI (more than half of the current student body are first generation) and understanding their unique needs is an important part of supporting their path to success in the classroom. By recognizing social, cultural, and economic challenges that many first generation students face, instructors can utilize responsive teaching methods necessary for success. Here are some steps to help achieve this goal:
- Practice Transparency – students should know what you are asking them to do, why you are asking them to do it, and how they will be evaluated. This helps to demystify the unwritten rules of college that many first generation students are not familiar with.
- Teach Study Skills and Organize Study Groups – share with your students how to best study for assignments and exams. Also consider arranging students in study groups, so they can benefit from peer support as well.
- Share Grading Criteria – use rubrics or other grading methods that make it clear to students how an assignment will be evaluated. This helps students in knowing what to focus on when completing assignments.
- Promote Resiliency – help students think about how they are learning as well as what they are learning. Consider requiring multiple drafts of an assignment so students are given the opportunity to improve while also understanding how to improve. This helps student persist when they do encounter failure.
The following links provide more information on engaging first generation students:
- Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Teaching of First Generation College Students (PDF)
- Collection of Student Identity and Success Strategy Videos
- First Generation Faculty and First Generation Students
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