Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership



First Reader/Committee Chair

Edna Martinez


A substantial amount of research exists regarding the efficacy of first-year seminar courses (FYSC); unfortunately, most existing FYSC research has been undertaken at predominantly white institutions and has tended to present college-going and the transition to college within the dominant narrative. Where addressed at all, the efficacy of FYSC’s for students of color has typically been framed via a deficit model lens and has not taken into account certain pedagogies known to better support Latinx, African-American, or other minoritized students. Led by the overarching purpose of exploring how intentionally incorporating culturally relevant and critical pedagogies in first-year seminars might be used to promote equity in higher education, this quantitative study employed ANOVA, post hoc analyses, and planned contrasts to determine if any significant correlations exist between FYSC groupings and the traditional indicators of student success (i.e., GPA, units attempted and earned, firsts-to-second year retention), as well as select indicators of engagement as measured by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

Although no correlation was found between the redesigned FYSC that incorporated caring, validating, and culturally responsive pedagogies and traditional indicators of success or most NSSE constructs, a significant relationship between the redesigned FYSC and students’ reported experiences with Effective Teaching Practices was discovered. As such, the primary recommendation for educators and educational leaders, especially those at iv minority-serving institutions, is the offering of intentional professional development opportunities surrounding the incorporation of caring, validating, and culturally responsive pedagogies within the postsecondary context.