Effects of the Imposter Phenomenon on First-Generation Students’ Academic and Co-curricular Engagement
Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Roger Mitch Nasser
First-generation college students experience many barriers transitioning to college, such as impostorism. Administrators must understand how the imposter phenomenon impacts student engagement, to increase retention. The researcher utilized a mixed-methods approach to explore the prevalence of the imposter phenomenon among community college and private university students. Furthermore, the study examined how impostorism manifested in academic and co-curricular settings. The survey sample consisted of 216 total participants, with 91 who identified as first-generation students. Eight students participated in the interviews. For the purpose of the study, first-generation students were those whose parents did not complete a bachelor’s degree. The researcher utilized three scales to examine imposterism and student engagement: Clance Imposter Phenomenon Scale, Engagement Learning Index, and the Co-Curricular Involvement Experience Index. Descriptive and inferential statistics provided insight to the problem. Additionally, the researcher performed a thematic analysis from the interviews to enhance the quantitative data and understand the lived experiences of first-generation students who experience frequent to intense impostor feelings. Findings revealed that overall, there was not a difference between first-generation and continuing-generation students. In fact, most participants experienced frequent to intense feelings of imposterism. However, results indicated slight differences between first-generation students across institution type. First-generation freshmen experienced varying levels of impostorism at the two different institutions. The study also depicted a significant difference among first-generation freshmen across institutions in educational meaningful processing. Co-curricular experiences revealed a difference between first-generation freshmen quality of involvement, while first-generation sophomores experienced a difference in quantity of involvement across institutions. Qualitative results discovered many characteristics first-generation students assume as imposters. Several barriers included: fear of failure, the comparison of oneself to others, fear of negative evaluation from others, and the lack of a sense of belonging. These barriers negatively influenced the participant’s academic and co-curricular engagement. Several recommendations emerged for administrators, staff, faculty, and students. The importance of increasing awareness, providing training programs, and increasing overall support for impostorism can enhance persistence for students.
Sykes, Ethan, "Effects of the Imposter Phenomenon on First-Generation Students’ Academic and Co-curricular Engagement" (2023). Dissertations. 747.