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UBC Theses and Dissertations

First year university student persistence : what helps and hinders, in their own words Marks, Leah


The University of British Columbia has competitive and stringent admissions requirements. In theory, all students that ‘make it in’ should have the opportunity to succeed. What critical factors allow some students to thrive and a small percentage to nose dive? This qualitative study explored academic performance enhancers and barriers from the perspective of the first-year undergraduate Faculty of Arts student. Through the Enhanced Critical Incident Technique, twenty-three first-year Faculty of Arts students identified what they saw as having helped or hindered them in their first-year academic performance and experience and imagined a ‘wish list’ for what might have resulted in a more ideal first-year experience in retrospect. The interview data analyzed through ECIT yielded 446 helping factors, 372 hindering incidents and 116 wish list items. Critical incidents were sorted into twelve categories that included both facilitative and hindering factors with all but two categories containing wish list items. The categories reflect the importance of what the students bring to their university experience, the effects of what the institution offers, and the key social influencers in their first year at UBC. In their own words, the students offer insights into what factors impacted their academic perseverance and hint at possibilities for promoting first-year persistence in the Faculty of Arts and beyond.

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