|Abstract or Summary
- This study was designed to investigate a phenomenon, retention of Hispanic adult
second language learners in Washington State's community colleges, from a qualitative
paradigm and phenomenological approach. The focus of this study was to capture eight
foreign-born Hispanic ESL non-continuators' voices and experiences, in their native
language of Spanish, who dropped out of Washington State's community colleges and
unveil the phenomenon behind the factors leading to their retention barriers.
The following questions guided the research: (1) What are the retention barriers
of Hispanic English as a Second Language population in Washington State Community
Colleges? (2) What is the profile of the foreign-born Hispanic ESL learner in Washington
State's Community Colleges? (3) Why do Hispanic ESL participants drop out? (4) What
services are needed and provided to increase retention patterns of Hispanic ESL learners?
(5) What services could make a difference in retention of Hispanic's English as a Second
A qualitative methodology and phenomenological approach of in-depth
interviews was the research paradigm utilized for data collection. Participants were
recruited from a survey implemented at various community colleges' and communitybased
organizations' ESL programs in Washington State. Criteria for inclusion as a
potential participant in this research required adult participants to be: (1) foreign-born
Hispanic, (2) a resident of Washington state, (3) in the age range of eighteen to thirty
years of age, (4) a prior drop out student from one of Washington State's community
colleges adult basic education ESL programs, and (5) a volunteer to participate in the
This study unveiled factors that caused retention barriers for eight foreign-born
Hispanic ESL adult learners that dropped out of Washington State's community colleges
Adult Basic Education ESL programs. In many Adult Basic Education ESL programs in
Washington State, foreign-born Hispanic adults are largely voluntary candidates, and the
role of student is just one of the countless roles competing for their time and attention.
From the eight foreign-born Hispanic non-continuators' voices and experiences, the
findings indicate that retention is a complex phenomenon involving various institutional,
situational, and dispositional factors. This study's findings also unveiled structural issues
for the eight foreign-born Hispanic participants, creating systemic structural barriers to
their socioeconomic and education development in the United States. This means no one
factor could provide an explanation for the retention phenomenon.
The eight foreign-born Hispanic adult non-continuators' situational and
dispositional factors overwhelmed their zeal for ESL instruction, ESL level completion,
and/or ESL program completion. The interview question guide unveiled reasons often
voiced as the causes for non-continuation: (1) family struggles and hardships, (2) lack of
childcare, healthcare, and transportation, and (3) long work hours. At the same time, the
eight foreign-born Hispanics adult non-continuators had pragmatic reasons for engaging
in ESL, and felt that the programs would provide meaningful contextual learning for
immediate or long-term goals for the home, workplace, or community.