The relationship between faculty diversity and graduation transfer and drop out rates in public community colleges



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Previous research has found that overall graduation rates for underrepresented minority (URM) students of all races and ethnicities were positively affected by increased diversity of their faculty. Using 2017 archival IPEDS data from 120 public community colleges this mixed-methods research study replicated and expanded previous research of Stout, Archie, Cross, and Carman (2018) by calculating an institutional Diversity Score as a common measure of diversity and ranking the community colleges by their overall level of race/ethnic and gender variance. The findings suggest that there was a significant strong positive relationship between graduation, transfer, and drop out rates for URM students of all race/ethnic catagories when there are increases in faculty diversity. There were no significant findings regarding the relationship of faculty gender to student graduation, transfer, or drop out rates. In the qualitative component of this study six community college presidents and 15 former community college students were interviewed to understand their perceptions regarding the relationship of faculty race, ethnic, and gender diversity and student success. These themes were: (a) changes in our communities drive the need for change in our colleges, (b) inclusion is a process of accommodation, and (c) mentoring and role modeling are critical. Analysis of student responses revealed two themes: (a) individual connections are important, and (b) female teachers matter to female students. Findings suggest that positive interactions with URM faculty can provide URM students with a role model that increases their sense of welcome, acceptance, and motivation to succeed. When students are exposed to a diverse faculty they feel more comfortable and have better outcomes. Increasing faculty diversity can be an important step for improving an environment for student success.



Faculty Diversity, Community College, Student Success, Engagement, Persistence, Student Diversity, Diversity Score