Date of Award

Spring 2022

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Todd DeMitchell

Second Advisor

Cari Moorhead

Third Advisor

Stacey Hall


Institutions of higher education are under increased scrutiny as graduation rates decline while student loan debt soars. One proposed strategy to improve completion rates is to give additional support to those students who are most at-risk of leaving college before graduating. Research has shown that first-generation students are more likely to leave college before attaining a degree than their non-first-generation counterparts.

Research has also suggested that engaging in two or more High-Impact Practices (or HIPs) during college can improve one’s academic achievement and persistence to graduation. HIPs are defined as educationally purposeful activities that require students to delve deeply into subject matter, engage more with their peers and instructors, and require reflection and responding to feedback.

This study examines data gathered at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Durham campus, through the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). The sample consists of senior students during 4 consecutive spring semesters (2016-2019), to determine if participation in 3 designated HIPs can be predicted by student generational status, and if that prediction changes depending on students’ gender or race/ethnicity. The three HIPs chosen for this study are: faculty-led research, internships, and study abroad. Logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between generational status and student participation in the 3 chosen HIPs, to determine participation, given the presence of one or more dichotomous variables.

Finding suggest that first-generation student status can be used as a statistically significant predictor of participation in HIPs for the average student at UNH. Gender identity is also a statistically significant predictor of participation, but only for internships and study abroad. Student race/ethnicity is not a significant predictor of participation in HIPs. Recommendations and suggestions for further study are offered as a means of addressing the disparities between first-generation students and their continuing-generation counterparts in participation in HIPs at UNH.