Dr. Peter Collier is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the Students First Mentoring Program (SFMP) at Portland State University. Students First is a U.S. Department of Education Funding for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education grant-funded intervention. This utilizes expertise development for mentoring to support the first year, first-generation student academic success and retention. He is also principal investigator on a National Academic Advising Association grant that examines the persistence over time of the effects of peer mentoring for first generation students. Dr. Collier's research focuses on access and retention issues within higher education, identity acquisition, and the development of role mastery. He is also active in promoting community-based learning. Along with Dr. Christine Cress and Vicki Reitenauer, he is co-author of Serving and Learning: A Student Workbook for Community-Based Experiences Across the Disciplines (Stylus Press co-published by American Association of Higher Education, 2005).
Over-view of presentation:
What do we know about first generation students? The number of incoming freshmen for whom neither parent has a college degree is rapidly increasing. How can we help these students succeed at Clark College and what steps can be taken to improve retention among this group?
More importantly, what role can you play in helping first generation students take the next step?
First Generation Students: What We Know and How to Work With Them
The percentage of incoming freshmen who are first generation – those for whom neither parent completed a 4-year degree at a U.S. college or university -- is rapidly increasing. This workshop draws from upon lessons learned in the Students First Program at Portland State University. SFMP utilizes “expertise-development mentoring” to help new-to-campus, first-generation, low-income students succeed during their first year on campus. This program emphasizes distinctions between actual knowledge and displayed abilities in students and provides strategies to help convert the assets of first-generation students into behaviors faculty recognize as engaged and critical thinking. Dr. Collier will start by providing some background information on first generation college students. Then specific suggestions for faculty working with new-to-campus first generation students will be offered. The workshop will close with a discussion of related issues and a question and answer session.
Gaiser Student Center
Unpacking an Intervention to Improve First Generation Student Retention and Academic Success
This workshop takes a deeper look at the underlying processes and program outcomes of the Students First project. Based on three years of data, the Student First Mentoring Program has positively impacted participating students’ GPA, average yearly credits earned, and retention rates, with SFMP students performing at levels significantly higher than those of All PSU freshmen and a control group of first-generation, low-income students who are not in mentoring programs. Dr. Collier will share the rationale for the evaluation plan for the Students First Project. Group discussion will explore issues related to evaluating the impacts of retention and performance improvement initiatives
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