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Joyce, Sharon (2017) SUCCESS OF FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS IN A SELECTIVE DOCTOR OF OPTOMETRY PROGRAM. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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What happens when former first-generation college (FGC) students successfully graduate from college and then aim for post-undergraduate education? The purpose of this dissertation is to compare differences between FGC students and non-FGC admissions profiles regarding end-of-first-year performance at UC Berkeley’s School of Optometry. The aims of this research project were to a) compare academic performance of FGC and non-FGC students based on GPAs from the end of their first professional school year, and b) examine the relationships among gender, ethnicity, participation in pre-optometry preparatory programs, undergraduate GPA, undergraduate institutional selectivity, Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) scores, and end-of-year GPAs within these two populations. In 2011, all current students at UC Berkeley’s School of Optometry were asked to participate in this research study; surveys from 233 students were collected. A P-value of <0.05 was considered significant for all statistical tests. Comparison of Optometry Degree (OD) GPA as an overall academic performance of optometry academics showed no statistical difference between FGC and non-FGC students (p=0.37). Also, comparison of underrepresented status noted no significant difference between FGC and non-FGC students (p=0.20). Self-reported ethnicity (p=0.04), Carnegie Classification Tier (p=0.001) and attendance at Opto-Camp, a preparatory program offered prior to entering the OD program (p=0.04), were all significant and associated with a lower OD GPA. Finally, the correlation of Undergraduate GPA and Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) AA Score with OD GPA was examined; undergraduate GPA had a significant positive correlation (r=0.33) with OD GPA (p=.0001). OAT AA Score also had a significant positive correlation (r=0.38) with OD GPA (p=.0001). While this study is encouraging that FGC students performed just as well as non-FGC students, future study on Berkeley Optometry students must consider the program’s distinct demographics. There is a lack of scholarship pertaining to FGC students who have made it into post-undergraduate studies, often investigating deficiencies in their preparation and look for “traditional” measures of success. Future studies should include metrics that measure factors like resilience as a predictor of persistence, and characteristics like empathy, which is necessary for those who aspire to be in the health professions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Joyce, SharonSTJ18@pitt.eduSTJ18
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeidman,
Committee MemberVan Sluyters,
Committee MemberTrovato,
Committee MemberJacob, W.
Date: 26 April 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 March 2017
Approval Date: 26 April 2017
Submission Date: 26 April 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 65
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: First-Generation College Students Optometry Health Sciences Graduate School
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2017 20:39
Last Modified: 08 May 2017 14:36


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