First-generation college students in engineering accumulate bodies of knowledge through their working-class families. In our ethnographic data of first-generation college students, we identified tinkering knowledge from home and from work, perspective taking, mediational ability, and connecting experiences as knowledge sources brought to engineering. The purpose of this paper was to understand how first-generation college students’ accumulated bodies of knowledge (i.e., funds of knowledge) support their beliefs about performing well in engineering coursework, feeling a sense of belonging in the classroom, and certainty of graduating. Data for this study came from a survey administered in the Fall of 2018 from ten universities across the US. In this study, only the sample of students who indicated their parents had less than a bachelor’s degree (n = 378) were used. A structural equation modeling technique was employed to examine several interconnected research questions pertaining to funds of knowledge, performance/competence beliefs, classroom belongingness, and certainty of graduating with an engineering degree. Our analysis demonstrates that the accumulated bodies of knowledge obtained through tinkering at home, tinkering at work, and the skill of being a mediator served to scaffold concepts that students were currently learning in engineering. There was a negative direct relationship between students’ ability to make connections between their home activities to scaffold what they are currently learning and their certainty of graduating with an engineering degree. However, first-generation college students’ perceptions of performing well in their engineering coursework and their sense of belonging in the classroom positively supported their certainty of graduating thus emphasizing the importance of connecting students’ funds of knowledge to engineering coursework and classroom instruction. Implications for possible approaches towards connecting first-generation college students’ funds of knowledge to engineering coursework and classroom culture are discussed.
first-generation college students, funds of knowledge, structural equation modeling
Date of this Version
Verdín, D., & Smith, J. M., & Lucena, J. C. (2020, June), The Influence of Connecting Funds of Knowledge to Beliefs about Performance, Classroom Belonging, and Graduation Certainty for First-Generation College Students. Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition