Through the Reading Lens: A Case Study Exploration of the Transfer Aspirations of Latina Community College Students Enrolled in Developmental Literacy Coursework
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Many students who begin postsecondary education at community colleges indicate holding aspirations of transferring and obtaining a bachelor’s degree or higher, but less than a third of these students transition to a four-year university within six years (Schudde et al., 2018). Guided by my assumption that reading-readiness is a requirement for college success, I explored the community college transfer rate through an investigation of how first-time-in-college Latina students enrolled in developmental literacy coursework at a community college and with aspirations to transfer to a four-year institution perceived their readiness for transition. Conducting the research using a reading focus mattered because placing into developmental education has been presented as a barrier to transfer (Crisp & Delgado, 2014; Valentine et al., 2017), whereas developmental education professionals consider placement in developmental literacy coursework an opportunity to learn postsecondary reading strategies and skills that will prepare students for upper-level classes (Holschuh, 2013; Palmer & Davis, 2012), and, ultimately, motivate students to persist to degree completion. The study data yielded four major findings: community college was considered less than attending a four-year institution, students were motivated to succeed and perceived they would get what they needed at a community college to transfer, they had expectations of support and guidance for their transfer goals from the community college and from family, and finally, students expressed that reading is reading meaning that there were no expectations for needing to focus on reading when preparing to transfer from community college to a four-year institution. These findings have implications for community colleges becoming a more important presence in students’ educational journey, for developmental literacy courses imparting the importance of reading for learners’ postsecondary success, and for future research as a call to action for conducting additional university-level research through a reading lens.