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ERIC Number: ED542880
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 127
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2674-4449-3
A Comparative Study of Border Crossers and Borderland Students of Mexican Heritage: Their Educational Experiences and Mediating Factors
Sayasenh, Samone
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, University of Southern California
There is a plethora of studies on Latino academic underachievement, but very little information about Latino students who are successful at community colleges, yet the majority of Latino undergraduates in the U.S. attend these two-year schools. Furthermore, studies disaggregating Latino sub-groups have been limited or non-existent; therefore, this study will contribute to filling this gap in the literature by comparing Mexican-heritage borderland and border-crossing students who attend community college in San Diego, California. For the purposes of this study, borderland students are those who went through the K-12 educational system in the U.S. before attending community college. Border-crossing students are ones who went through the K-12 educational system in Mexico. In addition, border-crossing students reside in Tijuana, Mexico, but they commute across the U.S.-Mexican border each day to attend community college in San Diego. Three primary research questions informed this study. (1) What are the differences between students of Mexican descent who live in the United States and those who are border crossers in terms of being AA bound or transfer bound from a borderland community college? (2) What kinds of obstacles, both social and academic, do students face? How do they overcome them? (3) What kinds of assistance do they report that made a difference in their aspirations and decision to transfer to a four-year university? Utilizing John Ogbu's cultural ecological theory, Claude Steele's concept of stereotype threat, Ricardo Stanton-Salazar's social capital theory, and Nina Glick Schiller's theory of transnationalism, the objective of this research is to learn how successful Latino college students respond to schooling in the border region. This research exposes the strategies that are utilized by these students to attain academic excellence. Findings from the study can help other students, professors, administrators, and school personnel increase school success for Latino students and close the achievement gap among Latinos, whites, and Asians. The research project consists of structured interviews with 7 students, and an academic profile survey is utilized to collect background information. The interviews were conducted during the spring of 2011 at various intervals. In order to be eligible for the study, both borderland and border-crossing students had to have completed 30+ transferable college units, completed at least one college-level math or English course, and achieved at least a 2.0 transferable cumulative grade point average. These students were purposefully selected through a snowball referral system because data that discerns whether a student resides in the U.S. or abroad does not exist at the community college under study. In fact, some border-crossing students may have used a friend's or relative's U.S. address to establish residency. Additionally, because of the nature of this study, trust in the investigator is a large factor in obtaining honest answers, so a referral system was the best route for finding research participants. I was the sole transcriber of the audio-taped interviews. The transcriptions were analyzed and marked to match the ideas being studied in order to understand how students respond to schooling. In terms of the applicability of the theoretical constructs, I found that cultural ecological theory is a somewhat problematic construct for explaining the behavior of this group because the students' understandings of race widely varied. This was especially true of the border-crossing students who were raised in Mexico because they have different attitudes toward race. Stereotype threat appears to be a significant factor in the educational experiences of these students. Not only are they well aware of negative stereotypes of Mexican-heritage people, but it appears to influence some in the courses they take. Social capital also appears to be an important factor in Latino student success, but instead of identifying specific faculty and staff, the students were more likely to credit academic programs and educational services as the key institutional agents on campus. Transnationalism also appears to be a useful concept for explaining how the U.S.-Mexican border affects both borderland and border-crossing students, especially the way in which it shapes their opportunities for higher education. The main findings reveal that successful borderland and border-crossing students of Mexican-heritage tend to have more similarities than differences. They pursue AA and transfer pathways for similar reasons and at similar rates. Students in the study also reported challenges that coincide with the characteristics of non-traditional students, such as being workers and parents. Family support was instrumental in overcoming these challenges. In terms of academic difficulties, some students reported Spanish as their primary language, which made English literature and writing courses challenging. Others pointed out intimidation by high-school teachers as an obstacle to succeeding in college. With regard to assistance in transferring to a four-year university, students cited EOPS, counseling, financial aid, and learning communities as being the most helpful. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; Mexico; United States