Perceived factors contributing to associate degree completion by African American males at a community college

Towuanna Porter Brannon, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to identify the sociocultural factors, personal economic circumstances, and institutional support services that African American males perceive contributed to their associate degree completion from a public, urban community college. African American males have the lowest college completion rates of any U.S. ethnic group; lower than their African American female peers. The majority of African American males begin their college enrollment at a community college; thus, the focus of this study was to investigate factors that contributed to their degree completion. Participants of this study were 14 African American males between the ages of 21 and 32 who earned an associate degree from one of four public, urban community colleges in New York City within the past four years. Employing a qualitative research design, framed by a phenomenological orientation and anti-deficit perspective, the researcher held one semi-structured interview with each participant, analyzed their respective transcripts, and conducted one focus group with 10 of the 14 participants. Validation was the theoretical framework used to analyze the data and examine the findings. Results of the data revealed six salient themes related to participants' degree completion: (a) meeting or defying expectations, (b) developing personal connections (c) escaping poverty, (d) out-of-classroom engagement, (e) financial support, and (f) self-authorship/role model behavior. Findings from the study indicated that validation led to student motivation; mentorship was essential to student persistence; financial support was critical for continued college enrollment; and campus engagement led to retention and ultimate graduation.

Subject Area

Community college education|African American Studies|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Brannon, Towuanna Porter, "Perceived factors contributing to associate degree completion by African American males at a community college" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3683423.