First-Generation College Students and Undergraduate Research: Narrative Inquiry into the University of Arizona's Ronald E. McNair Achievement Program and the Phenomenon of Student Transformation
AuthorHuerta, Andrew L.
KeywordsGraduate School Preparation
Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Ronald E. McNair Achievement Program
Language, Reading & Culture
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractWith increasing numbers of first-generation college students enrolling in colleges and universities across the US, so too is the need to begin preparing such underrepresented students for graduate school and a career in academia. As a phenomenological case study of student transformation, this dissertation examines the experience of nine first-generation college students in the summer research portion of the Ronald E. McNair Achievement Program (McNair) at University of Arizona. The qualitative data collected includes in-depth interviewing, observing the students' in-class presentations on the progress of their summer research, and reviewing the students' written work. Drawing on Adult Transformational Learning Theory (Mezirow, 1991) and Gee's writings on student identity (2000) and Discourse (2005), this study primarily addresses the following questions: 1) How do UA McNair students take on and use the Discourse of research during the 10 week summer program? And 2) as they engage in the Discourse of research (in classes, with mentors, with peers, in written work), what academic identity transformations are observed (in the classroom, in interviews, and in written work)? Narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) was utilized to organize and examine the data, and research texts consist of academic biographies written for each student. Findings reveal that student transformation is the noticeable difference in the students' utilization and integration of a language system used to describe their summer research and to define their research interests. Defined as the Discourse of research, this becomes the basis for students enacting the identity of undergraduate researcher. As a cohort of nine McNair Scholars, students share the experience of undergraduate research and engage in conversations which address the insecurities they have as first-generation college students. Through this formation of an affinity group (Gee, 2005) and their utilization of the Discourse of research, students engage in critical reflection, reevaluate their academic identities, and begin preparing themselves for their transition from undergraduate students to first-year doctoral students.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading & Culture