Cultural Mismatch, Graduate Studies Self-Efficacy, and First-Generation Graduate Student Success




Guillen, Maria R. Medrano

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First-generation students face numerous barriers as they navigate higher education, however, the majority of research has focused on the undergraduate level. The primary purpose of this study was to gain insight into the demographic characteristics of first-generation graduate students (FGGS). A secondary aim was to explore associations between generational status, based on caregiver level of education, and academic success, graduate studies self-efficacy (GSSE), cultural mismatch (CM), and interdependent values. Lastly, this study investigated potential group differences in these constructs between FGGS and continuing-generation graduate students. Findings suggest that the demographic characteristics of FGGS are similar to those of undergraduate first-generation students. Additionally, caregiver level of education was found to be associated with GPA. There were no group differences in GSSE and CM with this study's definition of FGGS. However, differences were found when students self-identified as first-generation or when the traditional definition of first-generation was used. In this case, FGGS reported lower levels of some GSSE dimensions and lower GPAs. These findings suggest that FGGS may face difficulties navigating graduate education similar to those encountered by first-generation undergraduates due to demographic characteristics. Additionally, generational status appears to be more influential when the caregivers' level of education is below a bachelor's degree.


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Cultural Mismatch, First-generation students, Graduate Studies Self-efficacy