Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Director

Ian M. Katz

Committee Member

Mallory McCord

Committee Member

Erin Moore


This study examines the effect of first-generation college student status on students’ sense of belonging, and whether remote learning moderates this effect. Specifically, this study examines whether first-generation college students’ sense of belonging at university differs from their continuing-generation college student counterpart, and whether taking remote courses impacts that relationship. It was hypothesized that first-generation college students would report lower sense of belonging than continuing-generation college students, and that remote learning would moderate the relationship such that the negative effect of first-generation student status on sense of belonging is strengthened when the student takes more remote courses. Survey data from college students were used to test the hypotheses. There were 175 observations for the testing of Hypothesis 1 and 137 observations for the testing of Hypothesis 2. Results showed that the relationship between first-generation college student status was not significant. Additionally, the moderating effect of remote learning was not significant. These results suggest that first-generation college students do not differ in sense of belonging from their peers, and that remote learning does not impact the relationship between first-generation college student status and sense of belonging. Results of the study provide insight into ways universities can help promote students’ sense of belonging. Future research regarding students’ sense of belonging should consider the roles that both academic integration and social integration play in shaping students’ feelings about and experiences at school.


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