Dissertation: Viridiana Diaz

Cohort 4, published 2012

Title

A Study of Latino Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker College Students: The Emergence of a Culturally Adaptive Navigation Model for Success

Abstract

Latino migrant and seasonal farmworkers represent a significant group in the United States, with California having the largest concentration in the nation. California also has the largest number of identified Latino migrant and seasonal farmworker students, approximately one-third of the total U.S. migrant and farmworker student population (California Migrant Education Program, 2007). Latino education in the United States is a crisis, as discussed by Gándara (2008). While Latinos are the fastest growing population, their bachelor degree completion rate remains extremely low, having risen by only 3% in a 30-year span (Pew Institute, 2010). Since the migrant and seasonal farmworker student population is 98% Latino, they are part of this educational crisis.

This qualitative study examines the phenomenon of the undergraduate college experiences of 10 Latino migrant and seasonal farmworker students who participated in the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) at California State University, Sacramento and went on to complete their bachelor's degree at the university. The theoretical framework guiding this study is Stanton-Salazar's (1997, 2011) Network Analytic Theory of Socialization. This study examines strategies used by this population to build the necessary social networks in order to navigate college life and successfully complete a bachelor's degree.

While using grounded theory as the method to analyze the study findings, it became apparent that the introduction of a new conceptual framework: The Culturally Adaptive Navigation Model for Latino Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker College Students was necessary, because, while various existing theories consider the characteristics of low-income, first-generation, underserved minority students, not a single one was created with the characteristics of this unique population in mind. Research findings demonstrate that providing an environment that facilitates relationships with institutional and empowerment agents increases access to valuable social capital and a sense of belonging for this growing, capable and often invisible population.

The Culturally Adaptive Navigation Model for Latino Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker College Students identifies significant first-year and beyond first-year transitions, referred to as progressions, that this group of students experience throughout their undergraduate years. According to the perspectives of participants interviewed, in order for Latino migrant and seasonal farmworker students to be successful, an adaptive model of practice must be adopted at the institutional level. This model identifies strategies to meet the unique needs of Latino migrant and seasonal farmworker students through academic support programs and/or course curriculum. This study provides programmatic recommendations applicable to other College Assistance Migrant Programs.

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