Understanding Persistence of the Latino/a Adult Student at the Community College
MetadataShow full metadata
Student persistence has been a topic of discussion in higher education for decades. Researchers have examined factors that affect persistence for traditional-aged students with research focusing on quantitative studies that fail to acknowledge the individual experiences of persistence. Likewise, there is minimal research on Latino/a adult students and their experiences with persistence at community colleges. This dissertation study examined the Latino/a adult student at the community college to gain a better understanding of their lived experiences of persistence. This study took place at an urban, two-year institution in south Texas that has a high number of Hispanic or Latino/a students and a low number of adult students. For this study, I examined the following overarching research question: Looking through the lens of Latino/a adult students, what explains the phenomenon of their persistence at the community college?
This study utilized a phenomenological, qualitative approach to explore the overarching question. The study followed a phenomenological methodology in order to focus on the lived experiences of the participants and to further explore the phenomenon of persistence. Two semi-structured interviews and a critical incident reflection were used to gather data from the participants. The themes that emerged from the data analysis were the following: the past will not define my future, moving into higher education, finding my place in higher education, aiming for a better life, what matters to me, making connections, and looking into a mirror. Sub-themes were identified for each of these themes as well, and study findings were interpreted in light of existing research literature and the study’s conceptual framework encompassing Schlossberg’s Transition Theory (1981) and Yosso’s theory of Community Cultural Wealth (2005). The study adds to the body of literature on Latino/a adult students and their persistence and also provides implications for practice for practitioners in the field of higher education.