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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Academically Successful: Latina College Graduates: A Multi-Methods Study
by Oropeza, Maria Veronica, Ph.D., University of Washington, 2011, 285; 3485596
Abstract (Summary)

Despite differences in college enrollment and graduation rates by race/ethnicity, there is a dearth of scholarship in higher education that considers the role of race/ethnicity in academic success. Equally problematic is that only a few studies in higher education focus on the academic success of Latinas. That previous studies in higher education have largely ignored race/ethnicity and other equally plausible factors raises questions about what is known about academically successful Latinas.

Drawing on Critical Race Theory, LatCrit and Critical Race Feminism this dissertation study attempts to better understand academically successful Latinas, their experiences in college and the cultural knowledge, skills, and resources they draw on to attain their academic goals. Findings suggest that particular racial/ethnic characterizations of Latinas can diminish the likelihood of Latina student success. Results from survey data demonstrate that the concept of risk factors makes obvious a very limited view of Latinas. Survey data also presents a broader, non-deficit view of Latina college graduates' background and experiences.

In addition, findings illustrate the within group differences among Latinas, their varied college experiences, and the diverse ways that they achieve their educational goals. Four prototypes of Latina graduates emerged from the data. Findings also show the numerous ways that Latinas created exceptions for themselves by drawing on forms of capital and community cultural wealth. Their experiences indicate that in a number of cases, the cost of negotiating success has been extremely high. Additionally, the deep-rooted nature of the culturally reproductive role of education makes a broad and successful application of community cultural wealth in higher education unlikely. Thus, widespread academic success among Latinas is unlikely without fundamental institutional change.

This study contributes to the scholarship in higher education research methodology, Latina academic achievement, and understandings of race in student affairs. It is a multi-methods study: pilot study (N=8), survey (N= 62), collective data interpretation (N=7), and interviews (N=27); presented in four article-based chapters. Recommendations for research and practice are also presented.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vargese, Manka
School: University of Washington
School Location: United States -- Washington
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Hispanic American studies, Higher education
Keywords: Academic success, College student success, Critical race theory, Latina/o, Multimethods, Race
Publication Number: 3485596
ISBN: 978-1-267-03316-1
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