The Undergraduate in the “New Urban University”: Recognizing the Role of Agency and its Correlates in the Student’s Academic Life Story
Dissertation - Public Access
Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy
According to the U.S. Department of Education (2016), only 36% of first time college students enrolled at broad-access institutions graduate within six years, compared to 60% at all universities. The vital role of academic agency is universally accepted; however, debate remains over a shared definition. The purpose of this study is to determine which combination of non-academic attributes generate, grow, and support academic agency for undergraduate students at a broad-access, minority-serving “New Urban University.” Three questions are examined:
- Which attributes define academic agency, and how do they relate to conceptually similar variables?
- Assuming academic agency exists along a continuum over time, is growth affected by age, pivotal life experiences, or both?
- What role can institutions of higher learning play in creating pivotal life experiences to foster growth of students’ academic agency?
This research study utilizes a mixed-methods design divided into: Study 1, a quantitative examination, and Study 2, a qualitative methodology based on the life story method. In Study 1, a survey examining grit, self-efficacy, ethnic identity, leadership, fair academic opportunity, academic self-appraisal, and family support was administered to 63 undergraduate students. A new domain emerged for academic agency comprised of leadership, academic familiarity, and fair academic opportunity. All domains, except for ethnic identity, demonstrated significant increases in age, suggesting emergence of a continuum of growth for academic agency and other non-academic attributes. Study 2, using a qualitative design with 12 undergraduates, is guided by McAdams’ (2001) life story model of identity adapted for the context of education.
Galea, Karen, "The Undergraduate in the “New Urban University”: Recognizing the Role of Agency and its Correlates in the Student’s Academic Life Story" (2017). Dissertations. 292.
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