Diversity and Social Justice: Promoting Academic Achievement Among Diverse Learners in College

Diversity and Social Justice: Promoting Academic Achievement Among Diverse Learners in College

Tasha Peart (Louisiana State University, Shreveport, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5268-1.ch007

Abstract

This chapter focuses on evaluating research on initiatives or programs to promote academic achievement among diverse learners at the university-level. It begins by reviewing data on the growth of college enrollment of under-represented students, particularly in the context of factors that motivate or impede diverse students to be successful in their college degree programs. It then discusses and evaluates research on the interventions or programs that have been developed to increase enrollment, retention, and ultimately graduation, particularly among under-represented students. Implications for future institutional research, educational practice, and policy recommendations in higher education are discussed.
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Introduction

This chapter begins by reviewing data on the growth of college enrollment of under-represented students in higher education. It then discusses the factors that contribute to or hinder their success and interventions or programs that have been utilized by colleges to increase enrollment, retention, and graduation.

Chapter Objectives

  • Understand and assess data on the increase in college enrollment among racially diverse students in higher education, including African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians.

  • Understand the factors that motivate or impede students to be successful in the higher education system.

  • Evaluate the research on interventions or programs that have been used to increase enrollment, retention, and graduation particularly among low-income and first-generation students in the higher education system.

  • Discuss and apply education theories that help to explain enrollment, retention, and graduation from college.

  • Discuss the implications for future institutional research, educational practice, and policy recommendations in higher education.

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Background

Diversity and social justice are important themes capturing the attention of the higher education landscape. The percentage of racially diverse college students has been increasing in the United States with 17% who are Hispanic, 14% Black/African American, 7% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 0.5% Alaska Native/American Indian (National Center for Education Statistics, [NCES], 2019), yet these statistics does not necessarily translate to a better understanding of the factors that impede or motivate racially diverse students to be successful in the higher education system. Graduate enrollment has also increased among under-represented students; among African Americans it has increased from 5.7% to 11.5%, from 2% to 6.2% among Hispanics, from 1.8% to 6.8% among Asian/Pacific Islanders, and from 0.4% to 0.6% among American Indian or Alaska Natives (NCES, 2019).

With that stated, African Americans (28.7%) and Hispanics (35.6%) complete their undergraduate college degrees at a lower rate compared to Asian (51.0%) and White (47.5%) students. African Americans (9.3%) and Hispanics (10.2%) compared to Asians (12.2%) and Whites (14.5%) generally complete their degrees at a different institution, whether they transfer from a 2-year college or another 4-year college. The data also indicates that African Americans (44.6%) and Hispanics (35.0%) are more likely not to enroll in college compared to Asian (20.0%) and White students (26.9%) (NCES, 2019).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Under-Represented Student: The term includes low-income, first-generation, or racially/ethnically diverse students who are traditionally under-enrolled in college.

Higher Education Theory: A group of correlated ideas that help to explain college student enrollment, retention, and graduation.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fields: A group of science-related subjects that have garnered attention in recent years, particularly because of under-enrollment at the collegiate-level.

First-Generation Student: A student who is the first in their family to attend and graduate from college.

Community Service-Learning: A type of applied academic learning experience that is integrated in a course.

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