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The Role of Learning Communities in Supporting Enrollment Decisions and the Academic Success of African American Community College Students

  • Author(s): Baronian, Tanya Suzy
  • Advisor(s): Hansen, Mark;
  • Howard, Tyrone C.
  • et al.

Though Assembly Bill 705 was passed in California to reduce gaps in retention and completion for community college students of color, these equity gaps persist. This study used quantitative and qualitative research methods to examine factors that influence enrollment choices and success in gatekeeper courses, like English, for African American community college students. Of particular focus were institutional supports and the role of learning communities. This study’s findings mostly confirm existing research on learning communities and other institutional supports, like counseling, and the ways in which these supports help students enroll in and complete courses. Primary findings from this study emphasize the importance of creating Educational Plans with counselors and frequent contact with counselors. The quality of professors was also perceived to influence students’ academic success, in addition to precollege factors, such as pre-existing writing skills. This study was grounded in two theoretical frameworks: Regina Deil-Amen’s (2011) Socio-Academic Integrative Moments and Laura Rendon’s (1994) Theory of Validation. The important role that learning communities play in community building and increasing a sense of belonging among students of color are validated through the lenses of these theories.

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