Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research in the Community College

Managing Expectations and Striving to Succeed: A Portrait of a Latino Male Student's Experience in an Early College High School

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research in the Community College

Managing Expectations and Striving to Succeed: A Portrait of a Latino Male Student's Experience in an Early College High School

Article excerpt

The Latino1 population is rapidly increasing across the country. In 2015, the United States (U.S.) Census Bureau (2015) reported that out of 321.4 million Americans, Hispanics represented 17.6 percent of the total US population. This percentage is an increase from 13 percent in 2000 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). This quickly growing racial/ethic group has garnered a heightened presence in U.S. four-year colleges and universities, but it is particularly concentrated in two-year community colleges (Krogstad, 2015).

Even with an increasing Latino representation in community colleges, research reveals Latino students encounter obstacles in obtaining their Carter (1997) found faculty and student engagement predicts college persistence among Latino college students. To promote Latino student learning, Cejda and Hoover (2010) advise community college faculty to demonstrate understanding and sensitivity to Hispanic culture and to create learning activities that privilege Latino students learning styles. Relationships with community college faculty in ECHS can also promote student success, but additional research is needed to understand how these relationships emerge and support Latino students, if at all.

Overview on ECHS

ECHS are intended to serve traditionally underrepresented student populations (i.e. first-generation college students, students of color, and low income students) (Smerdon et al., 2005). According to Thompson and Ongaga (2011), ECHS are founded on a framework that emphasizes rigor, relevance, and relationships. Rigor refers to the challenging coursework and high student expectations coupled with early interventions when students fail to meet expectations (Thompson & Ongaga, 2011). Relevance within the ECHS program requires a demonstrated effort to ensure learning is linked to personal or professional experiences and to promote the student's active participation in learning activities (Thompson & Ongaga, 2011). Finally, ECHS are designed to promote strong relationships between students, faculty, and peers as well as between ECHS and college partners (Thompson & Ongaga, 2011). Aside these key characteristics, ECHS programs are further distinguished from other dual credit offerings in that students are able to graduate from high school with more than 60 college credits (Tobolowsky & Allen, 2016).

Prior scholarly work has demonstrated students may garner some benefits in terms of high school graduation and college enrollment (Nodine, 2009). However, other researchers (Berger, Adelman, & Cole, 2010) have found ECHS students may not reap the full benefits of the program. For example, American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Stanford Research Institute International (2009) found first-generation college students exhibited lower academic aspirations and earned lower grades than their non-ECHS peers. These inconsistent findings warrant additional research to fully understand students' experiences, challenges, and opportunities in ECHS programs. This research is particularly critical for Latino males who confront a myriad of challenges in their academic pathways.

Latino Males in Higher Education

While prior research literature has extensively focused on the educational pathways of Latino students, only limited scholarly work has addressed the academic experiences of Latino male students (Sáenz & Ponjuán, 2011). The available research indicates Latino males encounter barriers throughout the K-16 pipeline (Sáenz & Ponjuán, 2011). For example, when compared to their White peers, Latino and Black males are overrepresented among K-12 students who have repeated a grade or been suspended (Sáenz & Ponjuán, 2009). These disparities for males of color may be attributed to school's discipline policies, a misdiagnosis of special education, as well as the limited presence of Latino males in the teaching workforce (Sáenz & Ponjuán, 2009).

Further confounding the attainment gap is the persistent "boy code," or societal norms that shape and influence boys' behaviors and shape (Pollack, 1998). …

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