Date Approved

2019

Degree Type

Campus Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Joe Bishop, PhD,

Committee Member

Teresa Satterfield, PhD

Committee Member

Paul Ramsey, PhD

Committee Member

Christopher Robbins, PhD

Abstract

According to the U.S. Census, since the year 2000, the total Hispanic or Latina/o population has increased almost 6%, which represents an increase of almost 25 million people over a period of 18 years. As more Latinos are accessing postsecondary education, more institutions will face an increasingly diversified student body. In the Midwest, there are already higher education institutions that work towards meeting the needs of Latina/o students who attend their campuses despite enrolling Latinos in lower numbers than those institutions that are considered Hispanic-serving institutions. Through the theoretical framework proposed by Hurtado, Millem, Clayton-Pedersen and Allen (1999), which illustrates the different elements that influence the climate for racial/ethnic diversity, this qualitative study focused on the efforts that two institutions in the Midwest are making to serve their Latina/o students from the perspectives and experiences of Latina/o undergraduate students. The study was designed to understand how institutions promote service to the Latina/o student community, how Latina/o students perceive this service, which of these resources and programs work, and which ones require improvement. The data collection method consisted of individual interviews and observations of students, faculty, and administrators, and the instrument used was a set of tentative interview questions designed to guide each individual interview. The findings revealed that although institutions are making efforts to serve their Latina/o undergraduate students, there are several areas regarding the structural diversity, behavioral dimension, psychological climate, and historical legacy of inclusion/exclusion of the institutions that need to be addressed. The results of this study suggest that institutions of higher education need to work on engaging the needs of Latina/o students in a more comprehensive and multidimensional way to avoid isolated and individual effects. This study intends to provide institutions of higher education with recommendations that they can implement to create inclusive campuses where the needs of Latina/o students are fully addressed and supported.

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