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Immigrant-Origin Students in Community College: How Do They Use Their Time on Campus?


by Edwin Hernandez, Carola Suárez-Orozco, Janet Cerda, Olivia Osei-Twumasi, Monique Corral, Yuliana Garcia, Dalal Katsiaficas & Nidia Ruedas-Gracia - 2019

Background: Immigrant-origin students are the fastest growing new population in community colleges, making up nearly a third of the community college population. To date, little is known about how immigrant-origin students make use of their time on community college campuses.

Purpose: This study sought to understand in what ways and to what extent immigrant-origin students—defined as first-generation (foreign-born) or second-generation (born in the United States to immigrant parents)—used their out-of-class campus time at three urban community colleges. We examined the following quantitative questions: How much time do students report spending on campus doing what activities? What is the demographic variation in these patterns (according to immigrant generation, ethnicity/race, and gender)? What factors predict how much overall time immigrant-origin students spend on campus? What is the effect of academically productive time spent on campus on grade point average for immigrant-origin students? We also explored the following qualitative questions: What do immigrant-origin community college students say about the time they spend on campus? What insights do they have as to what impedes or facilitates their spending (or not spending) time on campus?

Research Design: The study proposed a new conceptual framework and employed an embedded sequential explanatory mixed-methods design approach. As part of a survey, participants (N = 644, 54.6% women; M age = 20.2 years; first-generation immigrant n = 213, 33%; second-generation immigrant n = 275, 43%) completed a series of items about the time that they spent on campus and their relationships with their instructors and peers. Qualitative response data were derived from an embedded interview subsample of participants (n = 58).

Results: Immigrant-origin students reported spending a considerable amount of out-of-class time—an average of 9.2 hours—on campus. Hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that peer relationships and time spent helping parents or commuting positively predicted the amount of time students spent on campus. Qualitative responses provided further insights into immigrant-origin community college student experiences and provided perspectives on issues contributing to their spending out-of-class time on campus.

Conclusions: This study has implications for research, practice, and policy, given that immigrant-origin students make considerable use of their campus spaces. Community colleges should strive to nurture positive spaces and design the kind of on-campus programming that will enhance the success of immigrant-origin students. Collectively, these services will not only enhance the experience of immigrant-origin students but also be beneficial to the larger campus community that uses the community college sector as a stepping-stone toward upward social and economic mobility.



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The research for this study was made possible by funding provided by the W. T. Grant Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily express the views of the funders.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 121 Number 7, 2019, p. 1-48
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22698, Date Accessed: 9/22/2019 9:21:03 PM

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About the Author
  • Edwin Hernandez
    University of California, Los Angeles
    E-mail Author
    EDWIN HERNANDEZ is an assistant professor in the Counseling and Guidance program in the Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation and Counseling at California State University, San Bernardino. He is also a researcher for the Institute for Immigration, Globalization and Education at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research examines issues of equity and access in education, with a focus on institutional culture and how it shapes students’ experiences across the educational pipeline. Recent publications include:

    (1) Hernandez, E. (2017). Redefining the experiences of students in continuation high schools: A narrative profile of a Latino youth. The High School Journal, 100(4), 264–281. https://doi.org/10.1353/hsj.2017.0012. This study draws on a larger sociocultural framework and ecological theories to understand how one Latino male navigates various ecological spaces (i.e., home, school, and neighborhood) and how they shape the way he engages in a continuation school.

    (2) Suárez-Orozco, C., Katsiaficas, D., Birchall, O., Alcantar, C. M., Hernandez, E., Garcia, Y., . . . Teranishi, R. T. (2015). Undocumented undergraduates on college campuses: Understanding their challenges, assets, and what it takes to make an undocufriendly campus. Harvard Educational Review, 85(3), 427–463. https://doi.org/10.17763/0017-8055.85.3.427. This article examines how to improve the experiences of undocumented undergraduate students across a variety of higher education institutions. Using an ecological framework that accounts for risk and resilience, this study highlights the challenges undocumented students face and the assets they bring as they navigate their educational contexts.

  • Carola Suárez-Orozco
    University of California, Los Angeles
    E-mail Author
    CAROLA SUÁREZ-OROZCO is a professor of human development and psychology at UCLA and co-founder of Re-Imagining Migration. Her research has focused on immigrant families and youth, educational achievement among immigrant-origin youth, immigrant family separations, gendered experiences of immigrant youth, and immigrant-origin youth in community college settings.
  • Janet Cerda
    University of California, Los Angeles
    E-mail Author
    JANET CERDA is a doctoral candidate in human development and psychology at UCLA and a graduate student researcher at a UCLA-partnered K–12 community school. Her current research focuses on exploring the language learning experiences and the biliteracy development of immigrant children and youth over time, designing adaptive formative assessment practices for multilingual immigrant children and youth, and documenting K–12 multilingual and multicultural teaching practices.
  • Olivia Osei-Twumasi
    University of California, Los Angeles
    E-mail Author
    OLIVIA OSEI-TWUMASI is a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research has examined various aspects of the community college experience as well as transfer and graduation rates of community college students.
  • Monique Corral
    University of California, Los Angeles
    E-mail Author
    MONIQUE CORRAL is a doctoral candidate in the Human Development and Psychology program in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, and a research associate for the Institute for Immigration, Globalization, and Education. Her research interests center on the education trajectories and career development of underserved students in urban schools.
  • Yuliana Garcia
    University of California, Los Angeles
    E-mail Author
    YULIANA GARCIA is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Psychology program and research associate for the Institute for Immigration, Globalization, and Education at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests include focusing on the psychological well-being of immigrant-origin youth and issues related to the education of students of color across the educational pipeline. 
  • Dalal Katsiaficas
    University of Illinois at Chicago
    E-mail Author
    DALAL KATSIAFICAS is an assistant professor of educational psychology in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her current research focuses on exploring the social development of immigrant-origin youth in a variety of educational settings, with regard to the development of multiple identities and social and academic engagement.
  • Nidia Ruedas-Gracia
    Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    NIDIA RUEDAS-GRACIA is a doctoral candidate in the Developmental and Psychological Sciences department at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. Her research interests include exploring the association between sense of belonging and both academic and well-being outcomes among college students from historically marginalized groups, e.g., first-generation/low-income (FLI) college students. Starting in the Fall of 2019 Nidia will begin her appointment as an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
 
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