Role Models and Mentoring Relationships: Preferences Expressed by Hispanic Students Attending Hispanic-Serving Institutions

Michael Preuss, Eric Sosa, Jason Rodin, Jorje Ramos, Christine Dorsett, Chenoa Burleson
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Abstract


A sense that there are a limited number of role models at colleges and universities for Hispanic and other minority students has been a concern of researchers in higher education for a number of years but little is actually known about who Hispanic students consider a role model. Similarly, researchers have investigated the impact of mentoring relationships on success in college and persistence for majority and minority students, yet little is known of the preferences students studying at Hispanic-Serving Institutions have regarding mentors and whether Hispanic students at these institutions have expectations that differ from those of their peers. An NSF-funded investigation gathered data in both these areas. Findings from two surveys, one with responses from 464 students at 14 Hispanic-Serving Institutions and the other with responses from 746 students at a comprehensive, regional state university and two community colleges from which the university receives transfer students, are discussed. The first survey set the context for the second and its sample came from colleges and universities in New Mexico and Texas. The sample for the second survey is isolated to north Texas. On the first survey, students at HSIs were asked three general questions about mentors, to select types of individuals they saw as role models from a list of six short descriptions and to select all that applied from a list of eight characteristics desired in role models. The second survey included similar patterns but all the questions targeted mentors and mentoring relationships. Responses on both surveys include three primary findings. At the HSIs represented, the preferences of Hispanic students regarding role models and mentors are different from their non-Hispanic peers in several key ways. Their preferences appear to be related to cultural identity and to primary language for those who have English as their second language. The Hispanic students in the second survey were also more likely than their non-Hispanic peers to submit low ratings of the understanding representatives of their institution had of the student’s culture. This occured for all forms of engagement listed: advising/mentoring, instruction, tutoring, financial aid assistance, scholarship services, career services, and student organizations.


Keywords


Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Hispanic students, Role model, Mentor, English as a second language

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