African American male students' success in an urban community college: A case study

Peter Grant Jordan, University of Pennsylvania


This single site case study addressed two primary questions. The first focused on how African American male students define success. How these students define success is fundamentally important because of the intergenerational composition of community college student bodies and the variety of reasons why these students enroll. These reasons range from English skills development to literacy and workforce training to career development and re-tooling to preparation for and transfer to senior college and graduate programs. The second question explored African American male students' perceptions of the forces that either shaped their success or created barriers to success. Public, urban community colleges are an important gateway to higher education for most African American men. Extremely high secondary school dropout rates, the increasing rate of GED attainment among Black men, and the rate of poor pre-collegiate academic preparation and performance make community colleges the best hope for most Black male students, regardless of age, who desire to pursue a higher education. The study used multiple data sources, including documents, a survey, student records (transcript data), and focus groups, to explore the research questions. The results of the study illustrate the many forces that shape African American male students' success in an urban community college environment. The findings identify the importance of self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-confidence, and commitment to shaping success, as well as the role of the college in developing awareness and commitment. The study also identifies institutional, personal, social, and economic factors that can thwart African American male students' success. "Lessons learned" by African American male students at LaGuardia Community College suggest strategies that can be employed in order to empower Black male students to take a more proactive and assertive role in shaping their own success. The study also offers recommendations for institutions to help African American male students better define and achieve success.

Subject Area

Community college education|Black studies|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Jordan, Peter Grant, "African American male students' success in an urban community college: A case study" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3311541.