Hispanic students' perceptions of institutional factors that affect their persistence at Austin Community College
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In order for community college educators to formulate policies and processes that facilitate student achievement and increase institutional effectiveness, it is imperative that they understand students’ lived realities. Analyzing the perceptions of students who are persisting will provide information to assist the institution in efforts to better understand and serve Hispanic students. The purpose of the study was to examine Hispanic students’ perceptions of institutional factors that affect their persistence at Austin Community College. To examine these perceptions, Interactive Quality Analysis (IQA) was utilized to produce a grounded theory in students’ perceptions. Through focus groups and follow-up interviews, data were collected to determine the institutional factors, which students perceived as barriers to their college persistence. A systems representation of students’ perceptions was developed through the creation and analysis of conceptual mind maps. The findings of this study suggest that the factors contributing to the persistence of the participants are represented in two major components, student-based and institution based. The factors Cost of Education, External Factors, as well as Faculty/Student Interaction, Student Support Services and Campus Climate, together form the foundation of college persistence for this particular group of Hispanic students at Austin Community College.