A correlational inferential study of diverse urban community colleges found student engagement and persistence to be influenced by student body racial and ethnic demographics. An omnibus methodology was devised to quantify persistence of students with multifarious goals, allowing existing data about the student outcomes to be examined over the long term, inclusive of full-time and part-time students and those who stop out and return. This study adds to the understanding of peer groups as viewed in college impact models and recommends practices to improve student success.
Among the major findings of the study, student body diversity was found to promote student persistence. Student race or ethnicity was also found to affect persistence contingent upon student body racial and ethnic composition. Asian student persistence did not appear to be affected by the racial and ethnic composition of the colleges they attended. White students experienced a positive effect on persistence at colleges with no predominant population. Hispanic students experienced the greatest negative effect on persistence among all groups when they attended predominantly Hispanic colleges. Black students experienced less negative effects than Hispanics at institutions with predominant populations of Black or Hispanic students than they did when attending colleges with no predominant population.
Student academic preparation and access to financial aid were confirmed as consistent predictors of student persistence. The larger effects of background characteristics and preparation on persistence recommend a greater emphasis on active engagement with students to increase college effects on student persistence.
Racial and ethnic student body demographics did not affect student engagement patterns as strongly as they affected persistence. Higher percentages of Black or Hispanic students in college predicted modest increases in engagement while the percentage of Asian students did not predict engagement. Small differences between the ways in which Asian, Black, Hispanic, and White students engaged were also identified.
The evidence of effects on student outcomes at predominantly minority community colleges necessitates greater understanding of social normative systems to update theoretical models developed for predominantly White four-year institutions. The findings recommend developing educational practices that are sensitive to specific student populations, while also recommending better understanding of within-group differences.
|School:||California State University, Fullerton|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education, Higher Education Administration, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Campus Racial Composition, Community Colleges, Engagement, Persistence, Racial Differences, Student Socialization|
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