Leveraging the Power of Institutional Agents for Students of Color : Understanding the Factors Which Influence Engagement at Community Colleges Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/xp68km94z

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  • Student engagement with faculty is positively associated with increases in the retention and graduation rates of students enrolled in institutions of higher education. Although a considerable amount of research has focused on understanding the engagement experiences of students enrolled at four-year colleges and universities, little emphasis has been placed on the experiences of Students of Color whose first experience in higher education within the community college system.The overarching purpose of this study was to investigate the factors which contribute to the frequency of engagement of Students of Color with institutional agents. Three research activities sought to address the factors which influence engagement for Students of Color. Manuscript I is a synthesis of the research related to student engagement with faculty, specifically the engagement practices of Students of Color with institutional agents. Nora, Barlow and Crisp’s (2006) Student Engagement Model and Stanton-Salazar’s (1997) concept of institutional agents served as the conceptual model for manuscripts II and III and guided the selection of the dependent (interaction with institutional agents) and independent (factors which influence engagement) variables. The second manuscript sought to examine the demographics, pre-college experiences, environmental pull factors, and undergraduate experiences which influence frequency of informal or social interaction with institutional agents outside of the classrooms and office hours during the first year. Finally, the third manuscript investigated the pre-college student factors and undergraduate experiences which influence frequency of interaction with institutional agents outside of the classroom and office hours to discuss academic matters during the first year of enrollment.Manuscripts II and III utilize descriptive statistics and regression analysis to explore (a) the factors which influence the frequency of informal interaction outside of class with institutional agents for Students of Color and (b) the factors which influence the frequency of interaction for Students of Color with institutional agents to discuss academic matters outside of class or office hours. Both manuscripts utilize the publicly available data of the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS), a national probability sample representative of about 4 million students who began their post-secondary education in 2003 2004. The BPS collected data from students beginning their educational career at colleges and universities across the United States for the first time in the academic year 2003 2004. The final sample in this study is limited to degree-seeking students and the approximately 35.3% (n~2,400) of students who self-identified as Black, Asian American Pacific Islander, Latino Hispanic students who first enrolled in a community college in the 2003 2004 academic year.Results from manuscript I underscored the importance of engagement on personal (Komarraju et al., 2010; Sax et al., 2005) and academic (Kim, 2010; Kuh et al., 2007; Tinto et al., 1993) gains leading to increased retention and graduation (Price & Tovar, 2014) of Students of Color. Manuscript II demonstrated that Students of Color have low informal engagement with institutional agents, specifically, less than one third (31%) of all Students of Color met informally with faculty. Additionally, Latinos as had lower frequencies of engagement with institutional agents in comparison to their Black peers after controlling for pre-college experiences, environmental pull factors, and undergraduate experiences. Participation in study groups and social integration, on the other hand, were positive predictors of informal engagement with institutional agents. Manuscript III underlined the importance of undergraduate experiences for Students of Color as predictors of interaction with institutional agents, since there were five positive predictors of engagement for Students of Color, including: enrolling full- time, declaring a major, taking remedial courses, participating in study groups and social integration. Two demographic variables were also predictors of engagement: Females had higher frequencies of engagement in comparison to males whereas Latinos as had lower frequencies of engagement in comparison to their Black peers when discussing academic matters outside of the class or office hours.The results of this study underscore the importance of undergraduate experiences of engagement with institutional agents for Students of Color and highlight several implications for policy, research and practice, including: (a) addressing the effects of campus climate on Students of Color engagement with institutional agents, (b) creating institutional practices that support students’ selection of a major within the first year of enrollment, (c) requiring students to participate in orientation and advising services with faculty, also within the first year of enrollment, (d) supporting part-time faculty in the development of their own information networks, (e) providing financial incentives for part-time faculty to engage with students.
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