Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gyant, LaVerne, 1950-

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Higher education


One-third of the entering freshman class is a first-generation college student. Prior studies show that first-generation college students are low-income, they tend to graduate in six-years, and likely to leave college after their first year. Researchers have found that high-impact practices is one way to help remedy the various challenges that first-year, first-generation students' encounter. A learning community as an example of a high-impact activity makes a positive difference for students which helps first-generation students build their identities as learners. This study examined the experiences of first-generation students about how they perceive their FLC. A basic interpretive qualitative research study was conducted which incorporated personal stories from 13 first-year, first-generation college students. To help frame this study, Sense of Belonging was used as a conceptual framework. My approach to themeing the data was generating theoretical constructs. The four themes are: (a) Writing Intensively is Reflective and Impactful; (b) Academic Support is Beneficial, Utilizing Resources, and Engaging; (c) Making Connections is Relational and Transitioning; (d) Participating is Motivation, Awareness, and Structure. Findings from this study show that students' perceptions regarding their experiences in a freshman learning community were positive. Participants mentioned how they benefited from the learning community, created a sense of community and belonging, and successfully transitioned into college. This study has important implications for expanding knowledge and informing institutional practices aimed to enhance the experiences of first-generation students enrolled in FLCs.


Advisors: Laverne Gyant.||Committee members: Laura Johnson; Renique Kersh.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


166 pages




Northern Illinois University

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