The Role of Community Cultural Wealth in the Retention of Latino/a Students in the Community College Setting Public Deposited


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  • Background. Many studies addressing the reasons why minority students fail in higher education are based on what is defined as a deficit model. A deficit model documents that a significant number of minority students fail because their culture is distinct from that of the majority population. Numerous minority students do not possess the means or knowledge to navigate the US system of higher education. Increasingly, more Latino a students are enrolling in higher education and policymakers and accreditation agencies are requiring that colleges focus on retaining these students and ensuring they complete their degreeBased on critical race theory (CRT), Yosso (2005) proposed and later developed the community cultural wealth (CCW) theory, which indicates that Latino communities share acultural capital that consists of elements of “wealth” that a student possesses. Yosso (2005) identified six forms of capital: aspirational, familial, social, navigational, resistant, and linguistic.Purpose. The purpose of the study was to examine if it is possible to identify those cultural capitals influencing or empowering Latino student retention. This study sought to identify and analyze those factors known as cultural capitals associated with retaining Latino students. The study addressed the following research questions: (a) In terms of potential cultural influences, what do Latino students identify as a cultural component of their retention at community college? and (b) To what extent do the cultural factors that Latino students identify as important to their retention show similarities to the cultural capitals as defined by Yosso?Setting. Interviews took place at two rural community colleges in Oregon which contained the minority student demographic studied.Subjects. The study used a homogenous sampling of subjects who self-identified as Latino a and were required to meet three criteria outlined below. Subjects were full time students holding good academic standing as defined by the host institution, had completed at least three terms of continuous enrollment at the institution and be a member of a club that served minority populations.Research design. The study used semi-structured individual interviews with Latino a students at two rural community colleges in Oregon. The use of a qualitative interview was designed to examine the role of CCW in the retention of Latino a students at these colleges. A phenomenological study was selected to identify particular accounts and to analyze the phenomena, which in this instance was intrinsic in form, as the researcher sought to understand the role of CCW.Data collection and analysis. Using semi-structured interviews, interview data were subjected to a six-step analysis that used the theoretical framework of CCW as a lens to interpret the data. Comparing the literature with the findings provided a way to ensure the findings reliability, as well as search for potential new themes that might emerge. In addition, part of the individual interview process included member-checking using narrative accuracy to reflect and summarize the participants’ interviews. Triangulation was adopted through the use of interviews and field notes with both the test participants and the actual respondent participants.Findings and implications. The findings indicate that the cultural factors the participants identified are very similar, and in many cases, identical to the capitals Yosso identified. While the capitals found in CCW aid retention, they also included deficits within the capitals. These deficits exist as barriers to Latino a students’ success. These deficits are not to be confused with the deficit model, but rather constitute structural insufficiencies within the capitals that act as barriers to minority students.The findings of this study hold significance for community colleges that wish to increase their retention of Latino a students. In accessing and understanding the role of CCW in the retention of these students, colleges cannot only leverage the capitals that students bring with them, but also design better programs that use those capitals in the classroom and in college administration. In addition, colleges can increase Latino a students’ success by addressing specific structural barriers that impedes their success.Conclusions. The findings revealed that Latino culture is instrumental in retention at community college, in that all of Yosso’s (2005) cultural capitals were identified through this process. The findings did not identify additional cultural capitals or themes other than thoseYosso identified previously. However, it demonstrated that there are deficits in those capitals that potentially could reduce their efficacy. Keywords: Latino/a; academic retention; undergraduates; ethnicity; race; community cultural wealth; deficit model; community college; aspirational, familial, social, navigational, resistant and linguistic capitals.
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