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Toward a Conceptual Model: African-American Male Students’ Motivation, Persistence and Success in Community Colleges

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Focus on African-American and Hispanic Engineering Students’ Professional and Academic Development

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1266.1 - 24.1266.14



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Paper Authors


Olgha Bassam Qaqish North Carolina State University

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Olgha B Davis is currently a doctoral student at the Department of Leadership, Policy and Adult and Higher Education at North Carolina State University. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University in 1998. She worked in the software industry for 7 years, focusing on modeling and simulating automotive, aerospace and biological systems. She returned to graduate school and earned her Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from North Carolina State University and the University of Chapel Hill in 2008. Ms. Davis' doctoral research focuses on math identities of African American community college students engaged in mentoring programs and interested in transfering into engineering 4-year institutions.

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Toward a STEM Conceptual Model: African-American Male Students’ Motivation, Persistence and Success in Community CollegesOver the past three decades, the social, educational and economic outcomes for African-American males have been more systemically devastating than the outcomes for any other group,such as race, ethnicity, or gender group. In 2009/10, the national high school graduation rate forAfrican-American male (AAM) students was 52%. While the graduation rate for Caucasianmales students was 78%. On average, AAMs are more likely to attend the most segregated andleast resourced public schools. However, in most states, the stratification of school qualityworks to minimize educational opportunities specifically for African-American students. In2012, AAM students made up 4% of the currently enrolled male students in engineeringaccording to the National Science Foundation (2012).AAM students often begin their higher education journey at community colleges. According tothe 2011 American Association of Community Colleges report, 44% of African-Americanstudents attend community colleges. Many community college students hope to transfer into afour-year institution to complete a baccalaureate degree. Community colleges providecommendable open-door democratic services for any student to achieve their higher education.However, the community colleges are often criticized for serving as a device that perpetuatessocial inequality and as a “Cooling-Out” mechanism for AAM students (Doughtery, 1994;London, 1979; Olivas & Alimba, 1979; & Wang, 2012). The ‘Cooling-Out’ function in Higher Education, Burton Clark (1960) maintained that junior colleges channeled students whose academic expectations were deemed exceeding their abilities out of transfer programs and into terminal degree programs (Wang, 2012, p. 303).There is a desire and determination to facilitate student success in community colleges. Thatbeing acknowledged, it is hard to miss the deficit lens through which AAM student populationsare viewed. They are often portrayed as victims; blamed for their lack of success, persistence todegree, or not transferring to a four-year institution; or portrayed as academically underpreparedand require taking academic remediation courses (Davies, Safarik, & Banning, 2003; &Middleton, 2003).This work will attempt to answer questions such as: What motivates AAM students to learn?What happens to them once they begin their academic journey at the community college? Howare their needs being met? How are they able to persist to successfully complete their personaland academic goals? These are a set of complex questions that cannot be answered in a simplemanner or in one paragraph. This work will consist of an exhaustive review of peer-reviewedjournals and scholarly research work related to AAM students in community colleges. Majorthemes and sub-themes that run through these articles will be discussed in detail in this work tobring meaning and closer answers to the question of what do we know about AAM students’motivation, persistence, and success in community colleges? The authors will include their owncritique of this body of literature.

Qaqish, O. B. (2014, June), Toward a Conceptual Model: African-American Male Students’ Motivation, Persistence and Success in Community Colleges Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23199

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