Proceedings of The 5th World Conference on Research in Education
First Generation Students’ Humanities Research: Measuring Increased Higher Educational Capital through Natural Language Processing
Julie Lirot, Natalie Strobach, Michael Graziano, Caitlin Larracey, Samanda Robinson
Current scholarship describes the numerous and significant barriers to educational attainment for first-generation students in higher education, especially those multiply systemically marginalized due to race, gender, and/or income levels. Though this research has been limited by varied definitions for “first-generation,” previous work details limited access to four-year degree programs, lower graduation rates for first-generation students, and the social, emotional, and financial consequences of this exclusion. Building from long-standing research demonstrating the high-impact and intervening nature of undergraduate research experiences, this article describes findings from a multi-year study of an intensive, ten-week undergraduate research program in the humanities designed for historically excluded students, including first-generation students. Analyzing pre- and post-survey qualitative responses from 2018-2021 Humanities Collaboratory participants through natural language processing and corpus linguistics, this article demonstrates that cohort-building experiences focused on expanding undergraduate research positively impacts participants by increasing their Higher Education capital.
keywords: First-generation, educational equity, natural language processing, corpus linguistics, qualitative, belonging, undergraduate research, humanities, Higher education capital.