Latina/o Student Success At An Emerging Hispanic Serving Community College: Understanding The Heuristics At Work In The Black Box
Brandes, Derek Raider
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Latina/o Student Success at an Emerging Hispanic Serving Community College: Understanding the Heuristics at Work in the Black BoxABSTRACTBy Derek R. Brandes, Ed.D.Washington State UniversityMay 2013 Chair: Paul E. PitreLike many colleges across the United States, Pipe Lake Community College (PLCC), (a pseudonym) has experienced a dramatic increase in enrollment of Latina/o students and is considered an emerging Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). Other than Santiago & Andrade's (2010) survey, little research has been conducted on emerging HSIs. Also, little research has been done on Latina/o student success at community colleges.Padilla developed a new line of inquiry focused on student success rather than student departure. Padilla's expertise approach to student success modeling based on Harmon and King's (1972) use of expert systems served as the theoretical basis for this study (1991, 1994, 1999, 2009; Padilla et al. 1997). Padilla used the metaphor of a black box, a space that is hard to see or measure the processes occurring within, to describe the challenges measuring why some students succeed and others fail in college. This study replicates the approach of Padilla to understanding the student success black box utilizing tandem focus group and an unfolding matrix technique to discover the barriers successful Latina/o students experience and the heuristic knowledge needed and actions taken to overcome these barriers. Twenty-seven successful Latina/o students at PLCC identified 34 barriers that were classified into the following categories: psychological, decision-making, self-discipline, preparation, family, institutional, and cultural barriers. Successful Latina/o students at PLCC used experiential, procedural, relational and comparative, motivational and anticipatory heuristic knowledge (rules of thumb) and took persuasive, supportive, pragmatic, strategic and introspective actions to address the barriers that they faced. Identification of introspective actions has not been identified in prior student success research utilizing Padilla's approach. PLCC's successful Latino students took internal actions to address the psychological, family and self-discipline barriers they experienced.Based on this case study, several recommendations were made including institutionalizing elements that support Latina/o success in grant programs, developing a mentoring program, and creating a parent services program. Future research on Latina/o student success is needed, especially studies that examine the impact of college staff on Latina/o student success.