Higher Education

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 425–446 | Cite as

“Is that paper really due today?”: differences in first-generation and traditional college students’ understandings of faculty expectations

Article

Abstract

Success in college is not simply a matter of students demonstrating academic ability. In addition, students must master the “college student” role in order to understand instructors’ expectations and apply their academic skills effectively to those expectations. This article uses data from focus groups to examine the fit between university faculty members’ expectations and students’ understanding of those expectations. Parallel discussions among groups of faculty and groups of students highlight important differences regarding issues of time management and specific aspects of coursework. We find definite incongruities between faculty and student perspectives and identify differences between traditional and first-generation college students. We argue that variations in cultural capital, based on parents’ educational experiences, correspond to important differences in each group’s mastery of the student role and, thus, their ability to respond to faculty expectations. The conclusion discusses the theoretical and practical implications of considering role mastery a form of cultural capital.

Keywords

College student adjustment Cultural capital Faculty expectations First-generation students Focus group methodology Role mastery University retention 

References

  1. Aschaffenburg, K., & Maas, I. (1997). Cultural and educational careers: The dynamics of social reproduction. American Sociological Review, 62, 573–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker, W., & Faulkner, R. (1991). Role as resource in the Hollywood film industry. American Journal of Sociology, 97, 279–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bean, J. P., & Metzer, B. S. (1985). A conceptual model of non-traditional undergraduate student attrition. Review of Educational Research, 55(4), 485–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Becker, H. (1963). Outsiders: Studies in the sociology of deviance. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, P. (1973). Cultural reproduction and social reproduction. In R. Brown (Ed.), Knowledge, education and cultural change (pp. 71–112). London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Cultural reproduction and social reproduction. In J. Karabel & A. H. Halsey (Eds.), Power and ideology in education (pp. 487–551). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J. (1977). Reproduction in education, society, culture. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Callero, P. L. (1986). Toward a Meadian conceptualization of role. Sociological Quarterly, 27(3), 343–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Callero, P. L. (1994). From role-play to role-using: Understanding roles as resources. Social Psychology Quarterly, 57, 228–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Callero, P. L. (2003). The political self: Identity resources for radical democracy. In P. J. Burke, T. J. Owens, R. S. Serpe, & P. A. Thoits (Eds.), Advances in identity theory and research (pp. 57–70). Kluwer/Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  12. Collier, P. J. (2000). The effects of completing a capstone course on student identity. Sociology of Education, 73, 285–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Collier, P. J. (2001). The differentiated model of role identity acquisition. Symbolic Interaction, 24(2), 217–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dumais, S. (2002). Cultural capital, gender, and school success: The role of habitus. Sociology of Education, 75(1), 44–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Elkins, S. A., Braxton, J. M., & James, G. W. (2000). Tinto’s separation stage and its influence on first-semester college student persistence. Research in Higher Education, 41(2), 251–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eraut, M. (1994). Developing professional knowledge and competence. London: The Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  17. Eraut, M. (2000). Non-formal learning and tacit knowledge in professional work. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 113–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eraut, M., Alderton, J., Cole, G., & Senker, P. (2000). Development of knowledge and skills at work. In V. I. Frank Colfield (Ed.), Differing visions of a learning society: Research findings (pp. 231–261). London: The Policy Press.Google Scholar
  19. Hurtado, S., & Carter, D. B. (1997). Effects of college transition and perceptions of the campus racial climate on Latino college students’ sense of belonging. Sociology of Education, 70, 324–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kingston, P. W. (2001). The unfulfilled promise of cultural capital theory. Sociology of Education Extra Issue, 2001, 88–99.Google Scholar
  21. Kraemer, B. A. (1997). The academic and social integration of Hispanic students into college. Review of Higher Education, 20(2), 163–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Krueger, R., & Casey, M. (2000). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Lareau, A., & Weininger, E. (2003). Cultural capita in educational networks: A critical assessment. Theory and Society, 32, 567–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lecouteur, A., & Delfabbro, P. (2001). Repertoires of teaching and learning: A comparison of university teachers and students using Q methodology. Higher Education, 42, 205–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Morgan, D. L. (1997). Focus groups as qualitative research. Sage publications on qualitative research methods (2nd ed., Vol. 16). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  27. Morgan, D. L. (2002). Focus group interviews. In J. Gubrium & J. Holstein (Eds.), The handbook of interview research (pp. 141–159). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. National Center for Education Statistics. (2005). First-generation students in postsecondary education: A look at their college transcripts. NCES 2005–17.Google Scholar
  29. Polanyi, M. (1966). The tacit dimension. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc.Google Scholar
  30. Portland State University Student Support Services/Educational Opportunity Program Grant Application (2000).Google Scholar
  31. Terenzini, P. T., Springer, L., Yaeger, P., Pascarella, E., & Nora, A. (1996). First generation college students: Characteristics, experiences, and cognitive development. Research in Higher Education, 37(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tinto, V. (1975). Dropout from higher education: A theoretical synthesis of recent research. Review of Educational Research, 45, 89–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures for student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  34. Turner, R. H. (1978). The role and the person. American Journal of Sociology, 84, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (1998). Statistical Analysis Report, First-generation students: Undergraduates whose parents never enrolled in postsecondary education. NCES 98–082.Google Scholar
  36. Weidman, J. (1989). Undergraduate socialization: A conceptual approach. In J. Smart (Ed.), Higher education handbook of theory and research (Vol. 5). New York: Agathon.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

Personalised recommendations