The Association between Ethnic Studies Course Completion and Graduation Rates of Undergraduate Students of Color at a Predominately White Institution Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9c67wq217

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  • Problem: The current national focus on college student success highlights the need to increase the graduation rates of students of color. To date, qualitative research has shown benefits from Ethnic Studies courses such as higher levels of student achievement, engagement and involvement, validation, mattering, and a sense of belonging for students of color. However, quantitative research examining the aggregate student data relating to Ethnic Studies course completion and college student success has not been conducted. Purpose: This quantitative study seeks to determine if there is a relationship between students of color completing Ethnic Studies courses and graduating from a predominantly White institution. Setting: The research took place at a large, public research university in the Pacific Northwest. Methodology: Data for almost 5,000 students of color were obtained from the Registrar; SPSS was used to run chi-square tests for independence for three research questions: 1. Is there an association between students of color completing Ethnic Studies courses and graduating? 2. Is there an association between the number of Ethnic Studies courses completed by students of color and graduation? 3. Is there an association between students of color completing Ethnic Studies courses and time-to-degree? Findings: A statistically significant association between completing Ethnic Studies courses and graduating was found for students of color; students who did not complete Ethnic Studies courses graduated at lower rates and those who completed Ethnic Studies courses graduated at higher rates. Taking zero Ethnic Studies courses and taking one Ethnic Studies course were the most significant contributors to the finding of an association, although in some cases completing two and three or more courses was also related. The association held when looking at students who did not graduate and those who graduated in more than four years, although there was not a significant association between completing Ethnic Studies courses and graduating in four years or less. Conclusions: An association does not equal causation, yet the association found between students of color completing Ethnic Studies courses and graduating shows that it is possible that Ethnic Studies courses are contributing to student success, as has been found in previous research. Additional research is needed to further understand the association that was found.
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