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Issues Affecting Hispanic American Students in their Academics

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  • Summary of the Articles

Barbosa, L. L. (2014). A study of college access and academic success among first-generation Hispanic language minority students at the community college level.

  • Research Problem

The research aims to address the challenges faced by Hispanics in their quest for educational achievements. The attempt toward higher education by Hispanics alone, is usually not enough. Often times, the instruction for how to enroll and what steps are needed to be completed are not easily understood. The proper support system to ensure the must do items, such as prerequisite courses, are being completed is lacking. Hispanics are given much more support in a Community College setting. The unfortunate aspect is that they are short staffed with instructors and resources to meet the needs of ESL learners (English as a second language). The negative aspect of community college is that they are not funded as they should be and are not always recognized in the higher education realm. Another downside of community college is that they are highly governed by the community in which they represent and are heavily regulated with policies that are not usually in support of the Hispanic’s interests.

  • Purpose of the Research

This ethnographic-focused research has the main purpose of analyzing how the first-generation Latino bicultural/bilingual students needs and goals are met at community colleges. This study looks mostly at the offerings of economic and educational attainment. The study also looks at the obstacles that many first-generation Latino students encounter in search of higher education, such as personal hurdles, administration and academia challenges. The study also strives to add to data regarding the difficulties that come with the first-generation Latino students in finishing the needed ESL (English as a Second Language) courses.

  • Research Questions

There are many issues and ideas discussed by the study. Some of those things addressed are: how college and classroom environment can affect first-generation immigrant Latino students; how personal encounters (both positive and negative) can create an impact first-generation Latino students; the challenging or disempowering situations, whether personal or academic, this same group of students’ experience during ESL courses; and finally the impact the ESL courses have on the goals of these students.

  • Qualitative Design Used

An ethnographic, along with grounded theory research was done. In order to fully experience the environment and understand all aspects of culture, motivations, and challenges, the researcher allowed himself to be fully involved. Empirical data on cultural identifiers allowed for developed theories based on the research. A perfect strategy for identifying grounded theory was achieved in the ethnography research (Lewis, 2015). The participants were selected from a sample of community college adult students in an ESL program. The researcher was the main research instrument.

  • Target Population and Sample

The participants in the study were first-generation Latino college students who offered interaction and input related to the research topic. These focus group respondents are immigrants from different Hispanic American countries. A sample of 21 one volunteer participants was used. Three focus groups were conducted. All the volunteers had previously been exposed to several teaching methodologies including small group activities as well as lectures

  • Ethical Treatment of the Human Subjects

To a considerable extent, the researcher ensured that the participants used in the study were volunteers. In addition, all participants were adults. Adult implies that they were all above the age of 21 and understood what it meant to participate in such a study. The researcher tried as much as possible to avoid sensitive personal issues and the participants were not forced to answer questions that made them uncomfortable.

  • Qualitative Data Collection Approach

Data was collected through interviews with immigrant Hispanic students enrolled in ESL courses. Particularly, the aim was to recognize, examine and describe the first-generation ESL student’s perceptions of their experiences at a community college course. The interview comprised of a standard interview, which used a structured schedule, non-standardized interview, and semi-standardized interview. The researcher mostly focused on subjective definitions, meanings, symbols, metaphors, as well as descriptions of some instances to understand social world aspects for which it can be hard to formulate exact measures conveyed as numbers. There were both individual, and group interviews.

  • Qualitative Data Analysis Approach

The data was analyzed with the use of the constant comparative approach. This approach involves studying interview transcripts to develop tentative categories as well as coding information into different groups integrating these categories as well as their properties and decreasing them. Finally, writing the data interpretation of the researcher.

  • Reducing the Research Bias and Reinforcing Objectivity and Trustworthiness in Results

In order to minimize biases and increase the objectivity of the results, the researcher interviewed the participants in groups and as individuals. There were six groups of individual people and three focus groups. The individual respondents were questioned in depth and in follow up discussions to clarify unclear points and to give them a chance to comment further. The results were coded in a manner that would enable other experts in the field of education to examine the adequacy of the research process and findings

  • Trustworthiness of the Data Collected

All the interviews were electronically recorded and were used to compare and analyze the data interpretations developed. This helped in checking for accuracy. Other researchers, as well as the readers, dissertation advisor, and participant, were allowed to review data coding. There was also the use of direct quotes for referential adequacy to increase the trustworthiness of the data collected.

  • Strengths and Weaknesses of the Research

The research was able to eliminate biases by using both genders as participants and by using both individual and group focused interviews. The data coding and results were reviewed by other researchers who gave it credibility and dependability. However, the research does not comprehensively examine the problem. The researcher is the main research instrument in the study which means that his personal bias may affect the credibility of the study.

Smith, R. D. (2015). Why Latino American community college students drop out after one semester.

  • Research Problem

The research addresses the problem of degree completion among the Latinos in community colleges. Particularly, many Hispanic students in community colleges within the nation are failing to complete their degree programs despite there being enough higher education opportunities for them. Many Hispanic college students do not return to college after they finish the first semester. The research studies some factors the researcher believes contribute to this problem. These factors include inadequate preparedness, largely due to poor k-12 encounters, home environment issues, as well as economic factors.

  • The Purpose of the Research

The main purpose of the research was to recognize factors influencing students not to go back to college after they complete their first semester as well as exploring other issues that influence them to drop out. The research used case studies by interviewing participants who were classified in themes to guide the project study. Their testimonials were used to determine the action plans or programs that could be adopted to alleviate the Hispanic student’s persistence rates of attending colleges.

  • Research Questions

There were several questions used by the researcher to guide the study. The researcher aimed to explore barriers preventing Hispanic college students from progressing with their studies after the first semester; factors influencing Latino students from proceeding with their studies; and what the students felt could have assisted them with continuing with their studies.

  • Qualitative Design Used

The study used naturalistic, qualitative and case study approaches. Personal narratives of individual Hispanic students in community colleges were used to explore their choices of dropping out. The researcher used participants’ descriptions, to explore different semester stages at which these students would start to think of dropping out and the factors influencing these decisions.

  • Sample and the Target Population

The target population of the study were Hispanic Latino students in a Maryland suburban community college. The participants had to satisfy various crucial requirements. They included being a self-identified Latino, aged between 18- 21, started college as a freshman in the fall of 2012 or fall 2013, required a developmental course, failed to enroll in the second semesters Spring 2013 and 2014, born in the US or have permanent residence, be enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours, be a first-generation college student, and finally have no link or ties with the researcher. The sample consisted of five students from the Latino American community.

  • Ethical Treatment of Human Subjects

To ensure that every measure of beneficence, confidentiality, fairness and dignity, were honored, all participants were informed of the requirements of participation. These participants were then informed that the study required only volunteers and that they could exit if they wanted to. They could also ask questions or for clarification at any time. Every participant had to sign a form showing their consent to study practices. Most participants were comfortable during the study and did not show any emotional distress.

  • Qualitative Data Collection Method

The main data collection method in this qualitative study was the interview. These interviews provided the participants with a chance to share personal experiences concerning their college encounters. Specifically, the semi-structured model of interviewing was used for this study. It provided the researcher with a technique of capturing commonalities as well as emergent themes. In addition, it encouraged conversation by generating questions.

  • Qualitative Data Analysis Method

The data was analyzed using charts, identification of themes, patterns, and relationships.

  • Reducing the Research Bias and Reinforcing Objectivity and Trustworthiness in Results

Since the researcher is a Latino, the research was bound to be affected by his personal bias. However, to reduce this bias and reinforce objectivity and trustworthiness, the researcher ensured that all the participants did not have close ties to him. Students who worked with him in the college or knew him personally were not allowed to volunteer as respondents in the research.

  • Increasing the Trustworthiness of the Data Collected

To improve the reliability of the data collected, the researcher employed various techniques. They included inductive analysis, member check, audiotaped recordings, peer reviewer, interview transcripts, historical life calendar and the use of NVIvo ten software. The transcripts were read and assessed by the researcher himself. The peer reviewer brought additional perspectives as well as stimulation of further inquiries in the research.

  • Strengths and Weaknesses of the Research

Although the researcher’s past involvement in the Maryland suburban college presented personal bias to the study, there were some advantages it brought to the research. The major benefit was to let students who participated in the survey understand that the research was important and therefore give accurate responses and narration about their dropping out. One of the weaknesses of this research is that it used a small sample which is hardly an accurate representation of the Hispanic student’s community.

Smith, J. E. (2012). Factors that inhibit school involvement of Hispanic parents (Doctoral dissertation, Oklahoma State University).

  • Research Problem

This research explores factors that inhibit Hispanic parents school involvement. Latino parents consistently show low parental involvement levels in education institutions their children attend. Although there have been several efforts to increase their participation, the outcomes have been demoralizing with Latino parents remaining under-educated. Parental involvement is positively linked to effective and cognitive issues of students.

  • Research Purpose

The main aim of the research was to allow Latino parents to recognize and explain the main obstacles that prevent them from participating in schools their children attend.

  • Research Questions

The research used several questions as a guide. They included why Latino parents in non-metro areas do not involve themselves in their children’s school life; factors identified by parents as being essential barriers preventing their involvement; why these factors are different or similar to those pointed out in the previous research; factors not identified in literature impacting Hispanic parents lack participation.

  • Qualitative Design Used

The research used both ethnography and narrative, and qualitative designs. The ethnography was used to study the culture and social life of Hispanic parents who did not participate in school activities. The narrative design was used to weave together events, from seven participants in order to construct a consistent story.

  • Sample and Target Population

The target population of the research included seven Latino parents with no or little comprehension of the English language. The parents were from a rural midwestern community.

  • Ethical Treatment of Human Subjects

No participant was forced to participate in the study. They consented to all activities beforehand, and all the interviews were conducted in a language they could understand, i.e., Spanish. These participants were allowed to ask questions and answer them if they wanted to.

  • Qualitative Data Collection Method

Most of the information was collected using individual interviews, focus group interviews, and survey questionnaire of the seven participants in a non-metro community.

  • Qualitative Data Analysis Method

Understanding that qualitative information analysis mainly involves reduction as well as interpretation, this study used a pattern matching method due to its desirability and effectiveness.

  • Reducing the Research Bias and Reinforcing Objectivity and Trustworthiness in Results

To minimize biases, enhance objectivity and trustworthiness of the results, the researchers used a triangulation technique. This was performed by using many sources of data which included direct observation, member checks, participant-observation, external authority checks, document, interviews both individual and group focused, and archival records.

  • Trustworthiness of Data

To ensure the reliability of the information gathered, all the data from the interviews were recorded using tapes and then translated by a professional bilingual adult. Other bilingual experts in the field later verified the translation.

  • Strengths and Weaknesses of the Research

Weaknesses of the study include the sample size used and as well as the assumptions concerning causality between actors and acts involved. The experience of the researcher as a Caucasian school administrator presented personal bias to the study. The only strength of the research is that, to a considerable extent, it covered the research problem extensively.


  1. Barbosa, L. L. (2014). A study of college access and academic success among first-generation Hispanic language minority students at the community college level.
  2. Lewis, S. (2015). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Health promotion practice, 16(4), 473-475
  3. Smith, J. E. (2012). Factors that inhibit school involvement of Hispanic parents (Doctoral dissertation, Oklahoma State University).
  4. Smith, R. D. (2015). Why Latino American community college students drop out after one semester.
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