Anglo and Hispanic college students performance and intent to graduate: a prospective examination of risk factors in two theoretical models



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Texas Tech University


The reported rates of academic failure by Hispanic college students is markedly high. Although it is estimated that Hispanics will number 40 million and represent the largest minority group in the U.S. around the turn of the century, research has found that Hispanics hold less than 3% of all undergraduate and medical/professional degrees. A variety of research efforts over the last three decades have sought to examine this problem from a largely Anglo and deficit model approach. Rather than providing a clear-cut scheme in which the various risk and protective factors work in conjunction to explain Hispanic student retention, the research literature is replete with contradictions, inconsistencies, and information gaps. Prior research has shown that the risk factors of alcohol and drug use, alcohol expectancies, family history of alcoholism (for Anglos), adjustment to college, a lack of mentors, social support, collective self-esteem, and financial status may be used individually to predict college GPA and overall success with limited ability among Anglos and to a lessor degree among Hispanics. Research considering the comprehensive effects of these risk factors on each other and on the eventual outcome of college performance and intent to graduate has not been conducted. The present research sought to identify specific risk and protective factors that both facilitate and deter adequate student performance necessary for graduation of both Hispanics and Anglos. The research included both general and ethnic specific variables in an effort to distinguish risk and protective factors for the two groups. Two theoretical models were presented and tested using structural equation modeling. The models included indicators for risk from such varied areas as substance use, parental alcoholism, academic preparedness, collective self-esteem about school and ethnicity, alcohol expectancies, acculturation, and the presence or absence of mentors. The results indicated that the level of risk for all factors were fairly equal among both ethnic groups and provide little insight into why Hispanic students perform at lower levels than their Anglo counterparts.