Have a Question?
Ask the Graduate
College at our new
Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Manuel J. Brenes
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Title: “Si Se Puede” Latino Students Can Succeed in School: A Success Case Method Study
Dr. Brooks Applegate, Chair
Dr. Jessaca Spybrook
Dr. Karen Vocke
Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
1406 Sangren Hall
In public schools, especially in large urban areas, about one fourth of the students identify themselves as Latino or of Hispanic origin. Of those Latino children who began their educational journey at the elementary level, only 40% of them will graduate from high school and about 11% of high school graduates will pursue a college degree (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). To improve these numbers, educators and policymakers cannot ignore the educational needs of this population.
This study focuses on protective factors that influence Latino students to achieve academic success and further their education. It also addresses risk factors that are associated with negative academic consequences leading to the loss of interest in school and eventually to dropping out of school. This study furthermore explores how the Success Case Method (SCM) pioneered by Brinkerhoff (2003), an evaluation technique used primarily in the business world, can be successfully applied in education to study a marginalized population.
Key findings from this study reveal slightly different factors from traditional studies on the risks and protective factors of Latino students’ academic success. The findings from this study indicate that personal motivation, parental support, adequate school programs and the impact of peers are, in that order, the positive factors in their success. In addition, the study reveals that the lack of personal motivation and limited educational aspirations are primary risk factors for young Latinos’ lack of educational success. The family is identified as a risk factor due to inadequate parental skills having a detrimental effect on student success. Another risk factor is the lack of school involvement, an unsympathetic school environment where the needs of Latino students are not being met. Lastly, the study reveals that peer acceptance is a strong risk factor for young Latinos. In their desire to please their friends, school and academic goals turn out to be less important.
This study concludes by offering recommendations for future research investigating the Latino educational plight and for educators whose day-to-day behavior influences these young students.