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Determinants of Intent to Transfer among Black Male Community College Students: A Multinomial, Multi-Level Investigation of Student Engagement


by J. Luke Wood & Robert T. Palmer — 2016

Background/Context. Transfer is a core function of community colleges; this is a critical point given that these institutions serve as the primary pathway into postsecondary education for Black men. However, too few Black men identify transfer as a primary goal and/or eventually transfer to a 4-year college or university.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study. Using Nora and Rendon’s (1990) research on transfer predisposition as a theoretical guide, this study investigated determinants of Black male community college students’ predisposition to transfer from a community college to a 4-year university. This research sought to determine whether student-level and institutional-level measures of engagement were predictive of transfer intent. This research also examined whether engagement predictors at the student level had randomly varying slopes across colleges.

Population/Participants/Subjects. This study employed a quantitative analysis of secondary data from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE). A total of 11,384 Black men nested within 259 community colleges were included in the analytic sample.

Research Design. Data were analyzed using multilevel, multinomial logistic regression. Students’ predisposition to transfer was modeled in three categories, transfer as a primary goal, secondary goal, or not a goal. The first analysis examined predictors of students’ intent to transfer using student-level variables while the second analysis added institutional-level variables. In the third analysis, the researchers’ constructed random slopes and intercepts models to investigate whether the student-level engagement slopes on the outcome differed across the nested structure.

Findings/Results. Students with transfer as a primary goal (as opposed to not being a goal) were more likely to be younger, have earned more credits, non-first-generation, full-time enrollees, and to have taken developmental education courses. They were also more likely to spend more hours per week studying and involved in extracurricular activities. These students were also more engaged in active and collaborative learning and used student services on campus.

Conclusions/Recommendations. This research has shown that that the factors influencing Black men’s predisposition toward transfer largely mirror that of their White and Hispanic peers. Findings from this study demonstrated that social integration was a positive predictor of students’ intent to transfer; the finding diverges from prior research on Black men in the community college, which have shown social integration to serve as a negative predictor of success outcomes.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 8, 2016, p. 1-28
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21182, Date Accessed: 3/24/2017 6:00:11 PM

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About the Author
  • J. Luke Wood
    San Diego State University
    E-mail Author
    J. LUKE WOOD is Associate Professor of Community College Leadership at San Diego State University. His research examines factors that affect student success for men of color in the community college. Wood has authored/co-authored more than 80 publications, including Teaching Men of Color in the Community College (Montezuma) and Black Men in Higher Education: A Guide to Ensuring Student Success (Routledge).
  • Robert Palmer
    Howard University
    E-mail Author
    ROBERT T. PALMER is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, in the School of Education, at Howard University. His research examines issues of access, equity, retention, persistence, and the college experience of racial and ethnic minorities, particularly within the context of historically Black colleges and universities. Dr. Palmer has authored/co-authored more than 100 academic publications. His most recent books include Hispanic Serving Institutions: Their Origin, and Present and Future Challenges (Stylus) and Black Male Collegians: Increasing Access, Retention, and Persistence in Higher Education (Jossey-Bass).
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