Research Mentor(s): Angela Ebreo, Associate Research Scientist
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Diversity Research & Policy Program, School of Education
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 1 (10am-10:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 5
The existing literature on first-generation college students (Ives and Castillo, 2020; Antonelli et al., 2020; Keefe et al., 2020) centers primarily on the unique obstacles they face on their path to success upon entering college. Though some authors (e.g., Almeida et al. 2019; Chang et al., 2020) have studied how first-generation students can overcome these barriers, few have mentioned how undergraduate research programs can be an effective method for doing so. Palmer et al. (2015) suggest that students can benefit greatly due to the many mentoring relationships involved in undergraduate research programs. To synthesize these studies and identify these benefits, I conducted a literature search of multiple databases (i.e., PsychInfo; ERIC) to identify articles related to first-generation college students’ participation in undergraduate research programs. In my review of the 31 articles I collected, I found that first-generation college students can utilize undergraduate research programs as a social capital intervention. This intervention allows first-generation college students to gain social capital, which refers to the benefits and resources (i.e., psychological and academic support, increased retention, field socialization, a communication network) received from a social support network (Parnes et al., 2020). These benefits and resources aid students in their college career and are obtained through interactions with faculty and peer mentors in the research setting. I discuss mentoring techniques to facilitate social growth and additional improvements to undergraduate research programs that can further benefit first-generation college students’ transition to higher education.