Cultural capital and the impact on graduation for African American men in community colleges
Brawner, Robtrice D
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The purpose of this study was to focus on the theoretical framework of cultural capital as a potential catalyst for the graduation rates of African American men in community colleges. Cultural capital is being defined as 'institutionalized, i.e., widely shared, high status cultural signals (attitudes, preferences, formal knowledge, behaviors, goods and credentials) used for social and cultural exclusion' (Lareau and Weininger, 2003, p. 587). Unfortunately, cultural capital as a construct has been difficult to measure quantitatively due to varying interpretations of the variable structure (Dika and Singh, 2002; Pishghadam, Noghani, and Zabihi, 2011; Sullivan, 2001). Consequently, researchers have indicated the need to better operationalize cultural capital, to provide better avenues for both replication and extension of the constructs measurement (Noble and Davies, 2009). Therefore, this study first employed exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with the National Education Longitudinal Survey (NELS:88/00) to determine the latent variable structure of a measure of cultural capital in the community college field. Second, a factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted based on the new variable structure to determine whether there are differences in the self-reported levels of cultural capital for African American male students as compared to male and female students of other races within community colleges. Third, a binary logistic regression was conducted to determine how well the variables of cultural capital predict graduation for African American men in community colleges. The EFA, utilizing a sample of 3097 participants, extracted six factors indicative of the latent variable structure of cultural capital: (a) parental involvement, (b) habitus, (c) engagement with parents, (d) educational level of parents, (e) high school extracurricular activities, and (f) awareness of college norms. The resultant variable structure was then used to determine that there were no significant differences between the self-reported levels of cultural capital for African American male students and both male and female students from other races within community colleges. Similarly, the variables of cultural capital were not found to be a significant predictor of graduation for African American males within the community college field. As a result, implications for future research were outlined to include replicating the study with a more current dataset and replicating the study with a four-year student population. Additionally, implications for counselors in community college settings included highlighting an awareness of college norms, encouraging student engagement with parents, increasing parental involvement, and promoting collaboration with high school counselors and college counselors in high school environments.
- Doctoral Dissertations