Journal of Applied Research in Community Colleges. Peer-Reviewed Since 1993


Crisis Salience Theory: A Framework for Analyzing Community College Leadership during a Time of Three Intersecting, Slow-Moving Crises 

Daniel A. Tarker, North Seattle College

This exploratory, psychological narrative study examines how community college presidents make sense of crisis situations based on their cognitive schemas, and what leadership behaviors, competencies, and traits they draw on in response. The sample consisted of 12 retired community college presidents from a diverse range of institutions based on region, urbanity, and size. Findings informed the proposal of crisis salience theory. This theory suggests leaders make sense of crises on a continuum between immediate events and slow-moving situations. Perceptions of the immediacy of a crisis, informed by how much public scrutiny the event is receiving, influence the leader’s response. Leaders emphasize behaviors like taking a front and center role and communicating during an immediate crisis versus using more transformational and adaptive leadership strategies to address slow-moving crises.

Keywords: community colleges; crisis management; leadership

Tarker, A. D. (2021). Crisis Salience Theory: A framework for analyzing community college leadership during a time of three intersecting, slow-moving crises. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 28(1), 1-12.

Community College Alignment of Workforce Education and Local Labor Markets

Cameron Sublett, WestEd

Walter Ecton, Vanderbilt University

Sabrina Klein, University of California, Los Angeles

Adam Atwell, Mitchell Community College

Mark M. D’Amico, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The degree to which community colleges are able to train and skill the 21st Century workforce is dependent, in part, on their ability to design, implement, and manage career and technical education (CTE) programs of study that are aligned with labor market needs in their proximal geographic and economic areas. Policymakers and college leaders face a number of challenges on the way to building high-quality, market aligned CTE programs. We seek to emphasize the importance of, and challenges to, building high-quality, in-demand community college CTE programs. We conclude by offering several insights into strengthening workforce education in community colleges.

Keywords: career and technical education; workforce; community colleges; labor market data

Sublett, C., Ecton, W., Klein, S., Atwell, A., & D’Amico, M. (2021). Community college alignment of workforce education and local labor markets. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 28(1), 13-30.

Supporting Student Antiracism: Perspectives from Black Community College Presidents

Jon McNaughtan, Texas Tech University

Bryan K. Hotchkins, Texas Tech University

Jarett Lujan, Texas Tech University

Community colleges are opportune places for discussions around issues of social justice, given their ties to local communities, diverse student populations, and role in career/technical education. While many institutions have developed courses, centers, or administrative positions to guide and support discussions of social justice, the role of leaders in empowering students in this area is understudied generally, but especially at community colleges. This study focused on the perspectives of Black community college presidents to enhance understanding of ways institutional leaders can mentor students and help them develop into antiracists. Guided by racial formation theory, interviews with six Black community college presidents of predominately White institutions were analyzed, resulting in two significant themes: instilling panoramic views and cultivating champions. Implications include a recognition of the important role presidents should play in informing student’s racial formation to become antiracists and the importance of developing campus leaders to engage in student mentorship.

Keywords: college president; antiracism; racial formation theory; student empowerment

McNaughtan, J., Hotchkins, K. B., & Lujan, J. (2021). Supporting student antiracism: Perspectives from black community college presidents. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 28(1), 31-46.

What Makes Transfer Decisions Unique: Reexamining the Role of Finances, Geography, and Academics in the Choice Process

Shannon Hayes Buenaflor, University of Maryland, College Park

Casey Maliszewski Lukszo, Northern Virginia Community College

Allison LaFave, University of Maryland, College Park

Nearly 40% of first-time college students will transfer at least once within their first six years (Shapiro et al., 2018). Thus, the transfer population is a substantial part of the higher education landscape. Still, little is known about how students make the decision to transfer from one institution to another. The purpose of this study was to explore the factors that transfer students identify as significant when making their decision about where to transfer. Using a case study methodology and a conceptual framework influenced by Maliszewski Lukszo and Hayes (2019b) and Iloh’s (2018) frameworks for college decision-making, this study examined how traditional choice factors such as finances, geography, and the academic quality of the institution impact transfer student decisions in a variety of ways. The article concludes with implications for practice and research.

Keywords: transfer students; college choice; transfer process

Buenaflor, S. H., Lukszo, C. M., & LaFave, A. (2021). What makes transfer decisions unique: Reexamining the role of finances, geography, and academics in the choice process. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 28(1), 47-62.

Sustenance for Success: Connections between Community College Students and Food Insecurity

Robin L. Spaid, Morgan State University

Rosemary Gillett-Karam, Morgan State University

Lauren C. Liburd, Morgan State University

Darissa Monroe, Morgan State University

Tiffany Thompson-Johnson, Morgan State University

To assess the connections between student success and food insecurity of community college students the authors present the results of three studies conducted between fall 2017 and spring 2020. Using a crosssectional design and the intercept method, 858 participants completed the Household Food Security Survey Module. The three hypotheses for the studies were: there is a relationship between food insecurity and (a) GPA, (b) concentration, and (c) energy levels. Food insecurity levels for the participants varied—Monroe, 99%; Spaid and Gillett-Karam, 52%; and Liburd, 30%. Liburd found a significant relationship for all three hypotheses. Monroe’s 2020 findings that 99% of her sample was food insecure presents challenges for addressing unmet needs for African American/Black students. Spaid and Gillett-Karam’s 2018 findings showed that minority women with Pell Grants had food insecurity levels three times higher than other groups. Traditional student support services should include supplemental services for food-insecure student populations.

Keywords: community college students; student success; food insecurity

Spaid, L. R., Gillett-Karam, R., Liburd, C. L., Monroe, D., & Thompson-Johnson, T. (2021). Sustenance for success: Connections between community college students and food insecurity. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 28(1), 63-82.

Beyond Providing Access to Services for Southeast Asian American Community College Students: The Critical Role of Providing Access to Caring and Validating Agents

Soua Xiong, California State University, Fresno

This study challenges the findings from previous research that suggest use of campus services is primarily a function of providing access to services for Southeast Asian American (SEAA) college students. Using data from the Community College Success Measure, this study examines institutional actions that contribute to use of campus services among SEAA community college students. Findings from the structural equation modeling analysis indicate that interactions with caring and validating agents were directly related to service use while providing student access to services was not directly associated with use of services. Providing access to services was indirectly related to use of services through its relationship with opportunities to interact with validating agents. The author concludes with institutional actions that community colleges should consider to increase service use among SEAA students.

Keywords: Southeast Asian Americans; institutional agents; campus services

Xiong, S. (2021). Beyond providing access to services for southeast Asian American community college students: The critical role of providing access to caring and validating agents. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 28(1), 83-98.

Rising Scholars: A Case Study of Two Community Colleges Serving Formerly Incarcerated and System- Impacted Students

Melissa Abeyta, San Diego State University

Anacany Torres, California State University, Long Beach

Joe Louis Hernandez, Claremont Graduate University

Oscar Duran, California State University, Long Beach

The California Community Colleges system has launched the Rising Scholars Network designed to house programs for formerly incarcerated and system-impacted students attending community colleges in California. This study compared the structure, programmatic, functionalities, and services for this student population at two institutions. A comparative case study qualitative approach was used to compare two programmatic services. The findings of the study could be used to inform administrators and professional staff as they develop programs for formerly incarcerated and system-impacted students. Educators should consider an anti-deficit approach when developing student programming and institutional language when supporting this student population. Institutional sponsorship of professional development for their college administrators, faculty, and staff on issues surrounding formerly incarcerated and system-impacted students should also be considered.

Keywords: formerly incarcerated; system-impacted; community colleges

Abeyta, M., Torres, A., Hernandez, L. J., & Duran, O. (2021). Rising scholars: A case study of two community colleges serving formerly incarcerated and system- impacted students. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 28(1), 99-110.

Motivation for Persistence among Community College English Language Learners: A Constructive- Developmental Study

Jennifer R. Ouellette-Schramm, Walden University

Community colleges attract many English language learners, but relatively few persist to obtain a credential. Arguably, understanding motivations for persistence from the perspectives of these learners themselves can enrich the knowledge base on English language learner persistence. One lens that has illuminated qualitative differences in learning motivation is that of adult constructive development. This qualitative case study used the lens of adult constructive development to understand motivations for persistence among community college English language learners. Findings include developmentally distinct perspectives and motivations for persisting in community college. Notably, two learners who were further along on the adult developmental journey, with more abstract and complex developmental perspectives, described strong and positive motivations for persisting. Conversely, a learner constructing meaning from an earlier, more concrete developmental perspective was considering dropping out. Implications are discussed for supporting the persistence of developmentally diverse English language learners, particularly those constructing meaning from earlier developmental perspectives.

Keywords: persistence; English language learners; constructive-developmental theory

Ouellette-Schramm, R. J. (2021). Motivation for persistence among community college English language learners: A constructive- developmental study. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 28(1), 111-124.

Retaining Upward-Transfer Women in Computing Majors

Jennifer M. Blaney, Northern Arizona University

Broadening access to upward-transfer pathways is critical to advancing gender equity in STEM, especially in fields like computing, where women remain incredibly underrepresented. Using a longitudinal sample of nearly 300 upward-transfer computing students, this study provides new insights into the factors that contribute to upward-transfer students’ retention in the major, focusing closely on the experiences of upward transfer women in computing. Findings show that having a family orientation (e.g., valuing finding a career where one can spend time with family) negatively predicts retention in the major for upward-transfer women, while feeling supported by family in one’s degree pursuits positively predicts retention for all students. Other findings reveal the role of larger perceptions of computing careers and interactions with peers. Implications focus on how institutions can collaborate to create an inclusive peer culture and positive perceptions of computing before, during, and after the transfer process.

Keywords: upward-transfer students; STEM; gender; logistic regression

Blaney, M. J. (2021). Retaining upward-transfer women in computing majors. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 28(1), 125-144.

Family Matters: An Asset- Based Approach to How Families Shape Engineering Identity for Community College Students

Brian D. Le, Iowa State University

Sarah L. Rodriguez, Texas A&M University - Commerce

Maria L. Espino, Iowa State University

This study utilized a qualitative, phenomenological approach to understand how families can shape engineering identity for community college students. Using engineering identity and familial capital theory as frameworks, the study found that families shaped engineering identity in multiple ways. Families provided tangible and intangible forms of support that encouraged engineering interests, provided valuable recognition moments, and fostered environments to build competence and perform engineering identities. The study highlighted the need for community colleges to nurture relationships with families before and throughout the college-going process.

Keywords: community college students; family; engineering identity

Le, D. B., Rodriguez, L. S., & Espino, L. M. (2021). Family matters: An asset- based approach to how families shape engineering identity for community college students. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 28(1), 145-154.

Mentors Make a Difference: Community College Students’ Development in a Biomedical Research Training Program Informed by Critical Race Theory

Veronica Villasenor, California State University, Northridge

Amber Bui, California State University, Northridge

Shu-Sha Angie, Guan California State University, Northridge

Dimpal Jain, California State University, Northridge

Carrie Saetermoe, California State University, Northridge

Gabriela Chavira, California State University, Northridge

Crist Khachikian, California State University, Northridge

This study examined the impact of participation in an undergraduate biomedical research training program (BUILD PODER) on community college students’ academic, career, and psychosocial development. The program leveraged Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a guiding theoretical framework to empower students as learners and social justice advocates as well as to build a bridge to science through respectful, supportive research mentoring relationships (Saetermoe et al., 2017). In this quasiexperimental design, community college students (Mage = 21.29, SD = 5.02, 78.6% female) who had been in the program for a year (BUILD treatment group, N = 8) reported significantly greater understanding of research, course materials, and satisfactory mentorship compared to community college students in the pre-treatment, comparison group (Pre-BUILD group; N = 18). Qualitative analysis provided further insight into the academic and psychosocial impact of research training and mentoring for community college students interested in health and health equity.

Keywords: community colleges; research

Villasenor, V., Bui, A., Angie, S., Jain, D., Saetermoe, C., Chavira, G., & Khachikian, C. (2021). Mentors make a difference: Community college students’ development in a biomedical research training program informed by critical race theory. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College, 28(1), 155-170.