ERIC Identifier: ED358907
Publication Date: 1993-05-00
Author: Avalos, Juan - Pavel, D. Michael
Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges Los Angeles CA.
Improving the Performance of the Hispanic Community College
Student. ERIC Digest.
Community colleges play a major role in improving the access of Hispanic
students to the American system of higher education. Roughly 56% of all
college-going Hispanics attend community colleges, largely because they are
inexpensive, offer pertinent instruction, and have close ties with the
community. Relatively few, however, have attained a postsecondary degree of any
kind, making retention and transfer paramount concerns.
RECENT RESEARCH ON RETENTION
Two factors influencing
Hispanic community college student retention are financial aid and academic
support (Fields, 1988; Nora, 1990; Rendon and Nora, 1988, 1989; Walker, 1988).
Nora (1990) found that Hispanic community college students who receive higher
levels of non-campus- and campus-based financial aid awards in the form of
grants (versus loans and workstudy) were enrolled in more semesters, earned more
semester hours, and received some form of credential. Non-campus and
campus-based financial aid awards were found to be more positively related to
Hispanic students' retention than the students' high-school grades or their
cumulative grade point average at the community college. Rendon and Nora (1988,
1989) also found that many Hispanic students may be denied financial aid because
they overestimate actual income on financial aid forms. Fields (1988) found
Hispanic students' low attainment rate associated with the need to support
themselves or their families or with other financial reasons. Other factors
included lack of motivation, time conflicts, inability to cope with college
demands, lack of academic preparation, and poor academic performance.
Research supports the need for multiple-action programs to improve retention.
Walker (1988) examined the strategies used by 145 community colleges in Arizona,
California, New Mexico, and Texas to retain Hispanic students. She found that
improvements in retention were associated with financial aid grants, career
counseling into selective programs, and participation in English as a Second
Language (ESL) and Hispanic studies classes. Rendon and Taylor's (1990)
ten-point action plan calls for community colleges to:
*Develop strong linkages with feeder schools
*Build coalitions between the college, family, business, and the community at
*Involve the Hispanic family in the education process
*Strengthen the quality of teaching and learning by setting high and
reasonable faculty expectations of the students, continually measuring their
learning and growth, including Hispanic perspectives in the class-room, and
faculty staying current in their teaching field
*Improve counseling and advisement
*Engage students in the academic and social fabric of the college
*Increase the number of Hispanic students who transfer
*Increase the number of Hispanic students in high tech programs
*Train faculty to use assessment as a teaching tool
*Collect student data.
PUENTE PROJECT AND ENLACE
Two successful programs that
characterize multi-action efforts are the Puente Project and the Enlace program.
Puente Project is a state-wide community college program in California. Its
goals are to increase retention, general education requirement completion, and
transfer among Hispanic students. The Puente Project employs specially trained
English instructors, Hispanic counselors, and Hispanic professionals acting as
mentors who are dedicated to improving students' academic performance, level of
self-confidence, and motivation (Maestas-Flores and Chavez, 1987). Enlace
evolved from Evergreen Valley College's Puente Project; hence, there are many
similarities in the goals and frameworks of the two programs. As their names
would indicate, Enlace and Puente "bind" together or create a "bridge" between
students, teachers, and the corporate community. Both programs provide students
with individualized nontraditional counseling, academic instruction, and
personal contact with Hispanic professionals as mentors. In addition, the goals
of Enlace extend to improving math as well as English skills. Studies on program
outcomes indicate a high level of success among students participating in the
Puente Project (Atondo and others, 1986; Saucedo 1991) and Enlace (Chavez and
Atondo and others (1986) conducted their study at Evergreen Valley College to
determine the success rate of Puente students for the years 1983 through 1986
and to compare the achievement levels of Puente students enrolled in the
entry-level English 330 courses with those of other Hispanic students who began
in English 330 during the same semester. The three-year comparative study of 115
Puente students and 273 Hispanic counterparts found:
*89% of the Puente students completed English 330 compared to 46% of the
other Hispanic students
*70% of the Puente students completed English 1A, compared to 8% of the other
*53% of the Puente students completed English 1B, compared to 17% of the
other Hispanic students
*All twenty-one of the Hispanic students who began English 330 in fall 1983
and 1984 and who had received or applied for an associate degree by fall 1985
were enrolled in the Puente Project
*All fourteen of the students from the original group who transferred to a
four-year college were Puente students.
A recent study by Saucedo (1991) focused on the performance of Puente Project
students compared to that of other Mexican-American and White students in
community college. The combined Mexican-American group started with overall
lower grammar skills than did the White group. The Puente group had a higher
mean grade point average than did either the non-Puente Mexican-Americans or the
White students. The Puente students had a comparatively higher retention level
than either other group.
Chavez and Maestas-Flores (1991) found that Enlace math students who enrolled
in the Algebra I pilot section in fall 1988 had an 86% course completion rate,
compared to 36% for Hispanics in seven other college sections. Of that fall 1988
group, 50% of the Enlace students completed the spring 1989 Algebra II section,
compared to 2% of the general college group. Overall, Enlace students performed
better in class and successfully completed more courses.
Transfer is often cited as a factor in Hispanic
community college student retention. Rendon and Nora (1989) indicate that
California, which has the most Hispanics in the largest system of community
colleges in the country, experiences the greatest transfer losses among Chicano
and Black freshman students. Cohen (1984) believes the reason for low transfer
rates to four-year institutions might be related more to the overall composition
of the students that attend community colleges than to ethnicity alone. However,
he feels that the situation may be getting better for Hispanics because of
improvements in financial aid, increased interest by philanthropic foundations,
and the creation of college-level, minority-oriented programs. To improve
Hispanic transfer rates, Cohen suggests the development and strengthening of
articulation agreements with four-year institutions, the implementation of
stronger remediation and counseling services, and an increase in special
activities for Hispanic students that enhance the peer support system.
Another factor related to retention is the
scarcity of Hispanic role models in both overall numbers and in representation
across academic fields. Garza (1984) suggests that the representation of
Hispanics in the staffing patterns at community colleges can be improved. The
first step is to establish long-term programs that promote the
institutionalization of positive change for Hispanic achievement. Access to
staff positions can be increased by the dissemination of job vacancy notices to
Hispanics and by providing mentors for Hispanics entering administrative
positions. Finally, an increase in Hispanic women administrators can be achieved
by establishing a mentoring system, highlighting the need for diversity and role
models through the media and written articles, and developing a proposal for the
training of Hispanic women for administrative positions.
To better serve Hispanic students, community
college educators must learn more about their educational goals and achievements
(Burgos-Sasscer, 1987). Future research on Hispanic students should address the
misconceptions about the Hispanic population and their diverse characteristics,
study the persistence of the various Hispanic subgroups nationally and report
subgroup specific rather than general results, explore new ways of assessing
Hispanic students' capabilities and predicting their college performance, and
study the impact of family influence on the educational goals and achievements
of Hispanic students. The results of this research should inform program
planning directed toward the goal of more Hispanics achieving a college degree.
Atondo, A. And Others. A Study of the Puente
Project: 1983-1986. San Jose, Calif.: Evergreen Valley College, 1986. 59 pp. (ED
Burgos-Sasscer, R. "Empowering Hispanic Students: A Prerequisite Is Adequate
Data." Journal of Educational Equity and Leadership, 7 (1), 21-34.
Chavez, M., and Maestas-Flores, M. "Minority Student Retention: Enlace." In
D. Angel and A. Barrera (eds.), Rekindling Minority Enrollment. New Directions
for Community Colleges, #74. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991.
Cohen, A. M. "Hispanic Students and Transfer in the Community College." Paper
presented at the Hispanic Roundtable Talk of the American Association of
Community and Junior Colleges, Phoenix, Ariz., May 23, 1984. 17 pp. (ED 243 543)
Fields, C. "The Hispanic Pipeline: Narrow, Leaking, and Needing Repair."
Change, 1988, 20 (3), 20-27.
Garza, M. "Current Staffing Patterns." Hispanic Achievement: A Commitment of
Community Colleges and Business Enterprise. Washington, D.C.: American
Association of Community and Junior Colleges, 1984.
Maestas-Flores, M., and Chavez, M. Puente Project: The Mentor's Guide. San
Jose, Calif.: Evergreen Valley College, 1987. 46 pp. (ED 339 967)
Nora, A. "Campus-Based Aid Programs as Determinates of Retention among
Hispanic Community College Students." Journal of Higher Education, 1990, 61 (3),
Rendon, L., and Nora, A. "Hispanic Students: Stopping the Leaks in the
Pipeline." Educational Record, 1987-88, 68 (4), 79-85.
Rendon, L., and Nora, A. "A Synthesis and Application of Research on Hispanic
Students in Community Colleges." Community College Review, 1989, 17 (1), 17-24.
Rendon, L, and Taylor, M. "Hispanic Students: Action for Access." Community,
Technical, and Junior College Journal, 1989-90, 60 (3), 19-22.
Saucedo, M. Puente Project Student's Performance. Report on Spring 1988
Sabbatical Leave. 54 pp. (ED 339 967)
Walker, D. K. P. Strategies for Increasing Retention of Hispanic Students in
Community Colleges. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1988. 149
pp. (ED 295 708)