Student retention is considered a complex human behavior. Adding to the complex nature of student retention is the ever changing landscape of higher education due in large part to the growth of Hispanic undergraduate student enrollment on college campuses. While notable gains have been made increasing the number of Hispanic students graduating from high school and going on to college, little progress has been made in increasing the college graduation rate of this group. Narrative inquiry and autoethnography methods were used in this study to explore the family background and lived experiences of the researcher along with those of a sample population of 19 current and former Hispanic undergraduate students of a private Christian university. Tinto’s Theory of Student Departure (1993) served as a theoretical framework for this study because it was well suited for exploring student persistence as longitudinal process impacted by a multitude of institutional factors, external influences, family background characteristics, and student attributes. Primary data was collected using demographic questionnaires, individual interviews, focus groups, and reflective journaling. Several common themes emerged from data analysis and interpretation which shed light on the topic of Hispanic undergraduate retention at a private Christian university. The emerging themes from this study were comprised of: family, family support, motivation, religion, transition, institutional support, and supportive relationships. These themes point toward a connection between a student’s family background, individual skills and abilities, and pre-college academic readiness to the development of initial academic goals and commitments to earn a college degree. This study provided evidence that the cultural beliefs, values, and language reflected in the emerging themes converge with the cultural elements of the university in a way indicating connections between students and institutions were important determinates of student success. The findings revealed that a university’s ability to effectively engage and retain Hispanic students may be a function of a broad and supportive network of persons dedicated to the success of minority students throughout the university. This study provided evidence that supportive relations provided by agents of the institution and sources external to the university played a major role in a participant’s educational journey.
|Advisor:||Cartwright, Dennis D.|
|Commitee:||Cartwright, Dennis D., Lancaster, Lawanna, List, Elizabeth|
|School:||Northwest Nazarene University|
|School Location:||United States -- Idaho|
|Source:||DAI-A 77/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Hispanic American studies, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Autoethnography, Hispanic students, Student persistence, Student retention|
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