Student experiences of how cultural capital influences first generation college students in their first year attending a four-year university



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Abstract The purpose of this study is to investigate how cultural capital affects first-generation college students (FGS) during their first year at a four-year higher education institute. This study will use the conceptual framework of cultural capital. Bourdieu (1997) defines cultural capital as instruments for the appropriation of symbolic wealth socially designated as worthy of being sought and possessed.
“Cultural capital” is the general cultural background, knowledge, disposition, ability, language, competence, and skills that one possesses and are passed from one generation to the next (Bourdieu, 1974/1984, 1977). For Bourdieu, cultural capital not only describes one important pathway through which social origin has an impact on educational and occupational outcomes but also explains how this happens. Cultural capital includes a person’s educational qualifications, intellects, and preferences. The theoretical paradigm that will be most appropriate for this study will be constructivism (a subset of which is known as naturalistic inquiry) (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Naturalistic inquiry deals with a fundamental problem: “the concept of truth” (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p.14). Also, Lincoln and Guba (1985) state that “a paradigm is a worldview” which produces a methodology that arrives at a current set of beliefs (p.15). The personal narratives will be the biographical study in which the researcher writes and records the experiences of another person’s life (Casey, 1995/1996). According to Creswell (2007), the phenomenological approach “describes the meaning for several individuals of their lived experience of a concept or a phenomenon” (p. 57). Phenomenologists emphasize telling what all participants have in common, as they experience a phenomenon. Also, the interview style permitted the researcher to ask appropriate follow-up questions that may have materialized during the interview process (Glesne & Peshkin, 1992). In this qualitative research study, data collection occurred using semi-structured interviews, documented reviews, emails and follow-up questions. The important goal is to explain the meaning of the phenomenon for a small number of individuals who have experienced it. The research study encountered three core categories in the data collection. These core categories were relationships, personal dispositions, and academic preparation. These core categories carried the results and imp[lications for future research,

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First generation college student, Cultural capital, Relationship, Academic preparation, Personality disposition