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Earning and learning: The impact of paid work on first-generation student persistence

Marilyn Micka-Pickunka, University of Massachusetts - Amherst


This study utilized the Beginning Postsecondary Student (BPS) longitudinal data set (2004-2006) from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), which will follow for six academic years a nationally representative sample of students who began their postsecondary education during the 2004-2005 academic year. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of paid employment during the first year of college on first-generation academic success and first to second year persistence as compared to non first-generation students enrolled at 4-year institutions. First-generation students were observed to have a higher average number of hours worked in a week as well as GPA scores than non first-generation students. An independent samples t-test was performed in order to determine whether there was a significant difference between the groups. Considering the number of hours worked by the student, it was found that there was again a significant difference between the first-generation and non first-generation students, t = 8.57, p < .05. In fact, first-generation students would work almost four more hours on average than non first-generation students would. There was a significant relationship between the number of hours worked per week and the persistence of the student, t(200) = -9.25, p < .01. In fact, the model predicted that those who were still in their persistence track worked 10.82 fewer hours a week than students who are not in their track anymore. This indicated that students who were still on track did not work as many hours a week (not including study hours) as students who did not continue with their track. Based on this information, it was found that there was a significant relationship between the persistence track and the generation of the student, χ2(n = 1490, df = 1) = 23.15, p < .01. This indicated that whether the student was still on track depended on whether the student was a first or non first-generation student. In fact, those students who were first generation students were expected to be still on track more frequently than were observed (expected value was greater than observed value).^

Subject Area

Education, Policy|Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Micka-Pickunka, Marilyn, "Earning and learning: The impact of paid work on first-generation student persistence" (2010). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3409823.