Researchers have long struggled to accurately identify the needs of English learner (EL) students and the factors that facilitate their postsecondary success. Although prior research suggests that EL students disproportionately select into community colleges, there is a dearth research that examines transfer to four-year schools among community college English learner (CCEL) students. In this study, we examined whether and to what extent community college students’ linguistic status shapes the relationship between engagement and intent to transfer to a four-year institution. Using data from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, we used logistic regression to examine how, if at all, the relationships between the multiple forms of student engagement and intent to transfer might differ by linguistic status, net of various student and school-level controls. Ultimately, our findings suggest that students’ returns to engagement do differ by linguistic status, with CCEL students experiencing the greatest gains relative to their intent to transfer. Not only are CCEL students are more likely to engage in academic discourse, internalize teachers’ pedagogical offerings, and recognize institutional supports than their non-CCEL peers, but they appear to derive greater benefits from both academic engagement and instruction in the use critical thinking skills than their non-CCEL peers. We conclude with recommendations for educators, policymakers, and researchers seeking to improve CCEL students’ educational attainment and engagement.
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One consequence of the federal requirements regarding K-12 EL identification is that this status carries legal requirements for the K-12 school system; in contrast, higher education has neither a shared definition, nor standardized identification processes (Núñez et al. 2016).
Some prior US-based research has used the term language minority to refer to individuals who speak a first or home language in addition to English, while other research uses the term bilingual; for the sake of simplicity, we use the term bilingual throughout our review and our work.
Ordinal Response Scales: Frequency: 1 = never, 2 = sometimes, 3 = often, 4 = very often. Extent: 1 = very little, 2 = some, 3 = quite a bit, 4 = very much.
More than half of CCEL students (62.2%) as well as non-CCELs (53.3%) reported transfer as their primary goal. Similarly, 23.7% of CCELs and 22.0% of non-CCELs reported transfer as their secondary goal.
Specifically, CCSSE items ask whether students have completed, are enrolled in, or plan to complete each of these courses. For our research purposes, we selected on respondents who reported having completed the course(s).
Although we use the term Latinx in the review of the literature in accordance with current empirical norms, here we report on students’ racial identification using CCSSE survey terminology, with the understanding that the terms are used interchangeably.
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Hartman, C., Callahan, R. & Yu, H. Optimizing Intent to Transfer: Engagement and Community College English Learners. Res High Educ (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-020-09619-3
- Community college transfer
- English learners
- Student engagement
- Student success