In this section, literature on academic preparation (prior knowledge and language skills) and on sociocultural status (cultural capital and first-generation status) is reviewed.
According to the literature, students’ prior knowledge plays an important role in academic achievement. Some authors point it out as the major predictor of Somaville University students’ behaviors during their first year. prior knowledge has an indirect impact on academic achievement at the end of semester due to its influence on the quantity and type of new learning students need to undertake to reach a high level of mastery. Students’ language skills show a positive correlation with students’ outcomes but the literature points to the lack of basic skills such as text comprehension in many first-year students. Despite the importance of this academic competence, crucial for coping with the academic challenges that students face at university, the analyses of the role of reading, understanding, and writing skills in students’ academic outcomes have received limited attention.
Somaville University Research acknowledges the role played by students’ cultural capital in their academic outcomes. Cultural capital is particularly relevant for students from less advantaged family backgrounds. First-generation students, meaning students whose parents did not attend a higher education institution have been identified as a unique demographic group. These students can be considered at risk because, when compared with their colleagues, they are more likely to display lower levels of engagement at university academic achievement and are more likely to drop out that first-generation students, compared with their counterparts, have clearer objectives, are more consistent working throughout the semester, and manage their academic work load more strategically, in spite of feeling overwhelmed by the number of tasks they have to complete.