Academic Achievement in First Generation College Students: The Role of Academic Self-Concept

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Stacie Craft DeFreitas
Anne Rinn


This study examined whether verbal and math self-concepts could help explain the academic performance of first generation college students.  Participants were 167 ethnically diverse students at an inner city, commuter, open-enrollment, four-year university in the southwestern United States.  Results indicated that students with lower verbal and math self-concepts had lower grade point averages.  Furthermore, there were ethnic differences among first generation college students in GPA with Whites performing better than African Americans and Latinos.  In addition, Asians and Latinos had higher math self-concept than African Americans.  The potential for academic self-concept as an important factor in increasing the academic performance of first generation students is discussed.


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DeFreitas, S. C., & Rinn, A. (2012). Academic Achievement in First Generation College Students: The Role of Academic Self-Concept. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 13(1), 57–67. Retrieved from
Author Biographies

Stacie Craft DeFreitas, University of Houston-Downtown

Dr. Stacie Craft DeFreitas is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Houston-Downtown.  She received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Duke University in 2006.  Her primary research interests are concerning the academic and mental health development of youth, particularly urban, ethnic minority youth.

Anne Rinn, University of North Texas

Dr. Anne N. Rinn is an associate professor of educational psychology and the coordinator of the graduate program in gifted and talented education in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of North Texas. She holds a PhD in educational psychology from Indiana University. Her research focuses on the academic, social, and emotional development of gifted adolescents and college students, as well as the effects of gifted programming on student development as a whole.


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