First-generation college students and philosophy

At my university, I work with many first-generation and financially disadvantaged students, and I’m concerned that we don’t sufficiently understand students’ initial perceptions of philosophy. I lead a small team of researchers trying to collect data from as many students as possible to better understand these issues.

This project gained momentum after attempts to find data on the experiences of first-generation students showed that we didn’t have much data.

Research involves administering two short surveys to students, and you can help by asking your students to complete them. Dr. Peterson explains:

The study itself has been granted IRB exempt status, so there is very little risk of risk or harm to students, and all responses will be reported in aggregate. Instructors will be asked to distribute the survey twice, both on the first day of the semester and towards the end of the term, to gauge any changes in their perceptions. The survey is completed via a Qualtrics link and should take no longer than 10 minutes.

We hope to collect enough responses to provide a representative sample of students across the country. Therefore, it is crucial to go beyond the courses taught in our institution. We are specifically looking for courses similar to “Introduction to Philosophy”, at level 100, to reach beginning students.

She adds:

In general, we could benefit from a better understanding of student perspectives and any potential barriers that come into the classroom with them.

If you would like to help or find out more, contact Dr. Peterson at [email protected].