JTE v4n1 - Minority Recruitment and Retention Problems and Initiatives in Higher Education: Implication for Technology Teacher Education

Volume 4, Number 1
Fall 1992

Minority Recruitment and Retention Problems and Initiatives
in Higher Education: Implication for Technology Teacher Education
          Jorge Jeria
          Gene L. Roth
                Recruiting and retaining minority students are growing
          concerns for leaders of colleges and universities across the
          United States.  For a brief period, universities experienced
          steady progress at opening doors of higher education to
          minority students.  For example, from 1960 to 1975, the
          number of black students in higher education rose from
          150,000 students to approximately 1 million (Green, 1989).
          Unfortunately, enrollments of black students have remained
          at a plateau. With the exception of Asian students,
          participation rates of other minority groups in higher
          education have also remained stagnant. Further, the
          retention rates are low for minority students who have
          chosen to attend college.  A recent report by the National
          Association of Independent Colleges and Universities found
          that 54% of Hispanic students and 63% of black students who
          had enrolled in four-year colleges had dropped out for good
          within six years (cited in Wilson, 1990). Although
          university leaders have confronted the problems of
          recruitment and retention on a national level, the issues
          have not been resolved.  A growing chasm is reflected in the
          rates of participation of white and minority students in
          higher education (Carter & Wilson, 1989).
                Technology teacher educators are also concerned about
          the recruitment and retention of minority students.  As a
          profession,  technology education needs minority teachers
          who can serve as role models to the increasing numbers of
          minority students in American schools.  Further, minority
          leaders are greatly needed to strengthen the technology
          teaching field and its respective professional associations.
          Increasing the number of minority teachers in technology
          education should lead to positive results in recruiting
          minority students for technology education programs
          (Westbook, 1986).  These are desirable goals, but what
          actions are needed by technology teacher educators to make
          sustained progress toward them?  The purpose of this article
          is to review problems and initiatives associated with
          minority recruitment and retention in higher education and
          discuss implications for technology teacher education.
               Presidents of universities and deans of colleges of
          education have depicted minority recruitment and retention
          as vital issues for higher education.  Demographic
          projections have indicated that an increasing percentage of
          students in elementary and secondary schools will be
          minority students.  A recent report sponsored by the Western
          -Interstate Commission for Higher Education and the College
          Board, The Road to College: Educational Progress by Race
          and Ethnicity (1991), stated that the proportion of
          graduates who are minority group members is expected to
          increase from 22% in 1986 to 28% in 1995 (cited in
          Evangelauf, 1991).  The study showed that all of our
          southern perimeter states, from California to North
          Carolina, project proportions of graduates who are minority
          group members to be above 30%.  Unfortunately, those
          minority groups are not currently well represented and are
          not expected to be comparably represented in the near future
          in the teaching ranks.  For example, data presented by
          TEACHER MAGAZINE listed 93% of the beginning teachers of
          1990 as white (cited in Work-America, 1990, May).  This
          statistic is a marked contrast to the expectation that one
          third of the U.S. population will be people of color by the
          year 2000 (McCubbin, 1990).
                Many technology teacher education departments desire
          to increase the number of minority students in their
          preservice programs--yet they are struggling for meaningful
          ways to accomplish this goal.  The literature base on
          minority recruitment and retention lacks studies that might
          connect the topic directly to technology teacher education.
          However, technology teacher educators can begin to sense the
          magnitude of the issue by examining the expanding body of
          literature regarding minority participation in higher
                A book published by the American Council on Education,
          Minorities on Campus: A Handbook for Enhancing Diversity
          (Green, 1989, p. 2-3), presented the following data related
          to minority participation on campuses.
          Higher education's pool of students is increasingly made up
          of minority youth.  Of our 25 largest cities and
          metropolitan areas, half of the public school students come
          from minority groups.  In 1985, 20 percent of the school-age
          population was minority; in 2020, that figure will rise to
          39 percent.
          College attendance by black students has slowed; the gap in
          participation between whites and blacks is growing.  Between
          1967 and 1975, the percentage of black high school graduates
          24 years old or younger that were enrolled in or had
          completed one or more years of college rose from 35 percent
          to 48 percent; over the same period, the corresponding rate
          for whites grew much more slowly from 51 to 53 percent.
          However, between 1975 and 1985, while the college
          participation rate for white youths continued to climb to 55
          percent, the rate for blacks dropped to 44 percent.  Recentl
          released figures indicate that, in 1986, the rate for blacks
          rose to 47 percent.
          The rate of college attendance for Hispanic youths has
          declined in the last decade.  While the number of Hispanic
          students enrolled in college has increased significantly
          since 1975, the rate of attendance declined slightly between
          1975 and 1985, from 51 percent to 47 percent.
          College attendance by American Indian students lags far
          behind black and Hispanic attendance.  A recent report by
          the Cherokee Nation found that only 55 percent of U.S.
          Indians graduate from high school, and of these, only 17
          percent go on to college.
          Minority students are concentrated in community colleges.
          In the fall of 1986, over 55 percent of the Hispanics and
          just over 43 percent of the blacks attending college were
          enrolled in two-year institutions.  Few of these students
          ever go on to attend or graduate from four-year
          Black and Hispanic students are far less likely than white
          students to complete a degree.  Among 1980 high school
          seniors who enrolled in college, 21 percent of the white
          students, compared with 10 percent of the black students
          and 7 percent of the Hispanic students, earned a bachelor's
          degree to higher degree by spring 1986.
          Blacks attending historically black colleges and
          universities (HBCUs) are more likely to complete a degree
          than those attending predominantly white institutions.  In
          1984-85, HBCUs awarded 34 percent of baccalaureate degrees
          earned by blacks while enrolling 18 percent of black
               As one ponders the preceding information, questions
          surface in the search for remedies to these concerns: Why is
          the participation gap increasing between minority and white
          students on our campuses?  Why are attrition rates higher
          for minority students? What efforts have achieved success at
          increasing minority recruitment and retention? Leaders of
          our universities are struggling to find solutions to these
          pressing questions.
                A study conducted by the American Council on Education
          titled "Campus Trends 1989" found that a vast majority of
          colleges are attempting to increase minority recruitment and
          retention on their campuses.  Despite the efforts of these
          institutions, nearly two-thirds of their leaders rated their
          abilities to recruit black and Hispanic students as only
          fair or poor.  Senior administrators at approximately 370
          institutions participated in this annual survey (cited in
          Magner, 1989, July 26).  Some of the administrators who took
          part in the survey were not confident about whether their
          institutions provided supportive environments for black and
          Hispanic students.  Forty percent responded that the
          environment for black and Hispanic students was fair or poor
          at their institutions.
                Attendees at the 1989 annual meeting of the Education
          Commission of the States collectively agreed that a need
          exists to attract more minority students to universities.
          State policy makers were divided, nonetheless, over what
          approach should be used to attract those minority students.
          They disagreed over whether states should use "a carrot or a
          stick" approach to urge colleges and universities to
          increase the emphasis on minority recruitment and retention.
          In light of the need to improve minority students' academic
          achievement, considerable debate ensued over whether radical
          changes were needed in today's educational system (Cage,
          1989, July 26).
                If corrective actions are not taken, problems with
          minority recruitment and retention might get worse as
          opposed to better. According to Wayne E. Becraft, the
          interim Executive Director of the American Association of
          Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, contradictory
          goals are in place that hinder minority recruitment and
          retention.  Large public universities are tightening
          admission requirements and attempting to recruit minority
          students at the same time.  Colleges are trying to recruit
          minority students without a clear cut plan for doing it.
          Without programs that offer support, such universities are
          building failure (cited in Evangelauf, 1989, February 8).
               Several colleges and universities have implemented
          minority recruitment and retention programs.  The following
          examples depict an array of strategies that might help an
          institution initiate a minority recruitment and retention
                WILLIAM AND MARY.  Programs initiated at William and
          Mary focus on raising the academic skills of black high
          school juniors.  A summer program consists of a five-week
          term and is an attempt to increase the pool of eligible high
          school seniors and attract them to William and Mary.  If
          these students enroll at William and Mary, they are assigned
          academic advisors who help the students with the transition
          to college (Jaschik, 1989, June 28).
                RUTGERS UNIVERSITY.  Rutgers is another institution
          that has suffered a serious decline in the number of
          minority students.  In an attempt to battle this problem,
          the institution has created special mailings for minority
          students, conducted telephone contacts, issued personal
          invitations to campus receptions, established a scholarship
          program for high ability Black and Puerto Rican students,
          and initiated a seminar for minority high school students
          and their counselors.  Much of Rutgers' effort at retention
          has focused on tutorial assistance and additional counseling
          for minority students (Kanarek, 1987).
                PURDUE UNIVERSITY  The School of Engineering and
          Technology, Purdue University at Indianapolis has developed
          a curriculum that uses computers to develop pre-college
          skills of students in grades 6-11 who participate in its
          Minority Engineering Advancement Program (MEAP).  The
          program began in 1974 as a result of low enrollment levels
          of minority students in the schools of engineering and
          technology.  The program is funded through a combination of
          private and university funding.  Since the program's
          inception, 84% of all the program's participants have
          attended college and 58% of these majored in engineering or
          technology ("Recruiting Minority Students," 1989,
                TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY.  Statistics from the Texas
          State Board of Education indicated that Hispanic students
          comprised 30.4% of Texas student population in 1984, yet the
          number of employed Hispanic teachers has remained constant
          at about 12% from 1982-86. Furthermore, of those students
          who choose teaching as a career, data indicated that 90%
          were Anglo, 4.6% black, 2.8% Hispanic, and 1.4% Asian or
          Pacific Islander (Zapata, 1988).
                Texas Tech University formed a partnership with a
          public school district in an effort to recruit and retain
          minority students. This effort is intended to make Texas
          Tech faculty members available to individual teachers and
          classrooms of the Lubbock Independent School District
          (LISD).  Each faculty member will be used as a general
          classroom resource, exchange teacher and role model. This
          partnership is expected to help high school students make
          the transition to college and to help recruit and retain
          minority students at Texas Tech University (Ishler & Leslie,
          1987, February 12-15).
          The Virginia  Polytechnic Institute and State University
          uses a five-week summer program to facilitate the enrollment
          and retention of black college students.  The program
          focuses on increasing skills in academic subjects;
          developing skills in interpersonal interactions with peers,
          faculty and administrators; developing self-confidence and
          self-awareness; gaining knowledge of the complex university
          structure, its rules, regulations and policies; and learning
          successful study methods and time management (McLaughlin et
          al., 1984, October 24-26).
                NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY.  Northern Illinois
          University is renovating a program that is giving special
          help to minority students.  The CHANCE Program helps
          minority students who are academically deficient upon
          admission by offering counseling, tutoring and basic skills
          classes in English, reading, speech and mathematics.  The
          university is doubling the number of counselors in its
          CHANCE program and extending services to cover students'
          entire stay on campus.
                The preceding examples of recruitment and retention
          strategies represent a small sample of ideas that have been
          tried by a handful of colleges.  Programs at other
          universities may be as good or perhaps better, but the
          preceding programs were cited by the authors to exemplify
          the breadth of activities occurring on college campuses.
          Additional recruitment and retention strategies and examples
          may be gleaned from the documents Recruiting Minority
          Teachers, by the American Association of Colleges for
          Teacher Education (1991), and separate articles by Dorman
          and Holmes in the Policy Briefs (1990, Number 8) publication
          of the North Central Regional Education Laboratory.
                Although numerous approaches to minority recruitment
          deserve recognition (e.g., intervention with public schools,
          summer campus internships for visitation programs,
          articulation with historically black colleges), the authors
          believe that articulation among universities and community
          colleges merits special attention.  Community colleges are
          quite often the point of access to postsecondary education
          and professional career exploration for many ethnic
          minorities. Estimates are that 54% of all Hispanic and 45%
          of all black enrollments in the postsecondary sector are in
          two-year colleges (Woods & Williams, 1987).  These students
          make up 30% of community college enrollment yet they are the
          least likely groups to continue their education at four-year
          institutions (Watkins, 1990).
                Researchers are beginning to identify variables that
          enhance transfers for minority students from community
          colleges to universities.  Well over $10 million dollars
          were awarded between 1979 and 1987 by Ford and other
          foundations for projects and activities related to minority
          student transfer.  For students to make progress toward the
          Baccalaureate degree, these projects and activities
          indicated that three sets of activities should occur: 1)
          easing a transition from high school to community college,
          including testing and placing students in the proper
          courses; 2) supporting the students through a variety of
          special interventions while they are enrolled in a community
          college; and 3) enhancing transfer to senior institutions
          through such strategies as coordinated financial aid
          packages, curriculum articulation, and regularly scheduled
          staff interaction (Cohen, Lombardi, & Brawer, 1988).
                The Ford Foundation funded 24 community colleges to
          conduct activities that might increase the number of
          minority students who receive Associate degrees and then
          transfer to universities.  Five institutions received
          continued funding for a second year, and each institution
          took a different approach in increasing the student flow to
          universities. The Cuyahoga Community College established a
          center for articulation and transfer that focused on
          linkages with high schools and four year institutions.
          Liguardia Community College stressed the improvement of the
          flow of information to students.  Miami-Dade Community
          College worked on areas such  as mandatory testing and
          placement, extensive remedial instruction and enforced
          standards of academic progress.  The Community College of
          Philadelphia stressed curriculum reform through staff
          development, and South Mountain Community College created a
          variety of student recruitment and support services ("An
          assessment of urban community colleges," 1988).
                Rivera (1986) found that the four most common program
          components for community colleges to increase minority
          recruitment to four-year institutions were curriculum
          development, articulation, student transfer information and
          student services.  Recruitment of community college minority
          students is a complex issue and needs a variety of programs
          which are unique and fit within the framework of an
          institution. For additional reading on this topic, the
          reader is referred to a publication jointly produced by the
          Academy for Educational Development and the College Entrance
          Examination Board, Bridges to opportunity: Are community
          colleges meeting the transfer needs of minority students?
                No one set of recommendations will apply to all
          universities that wish to increase the recruitment and
          retention levels of minority students.  Such factors as the
          size of programs, populations that they serve, the regional
          economy, institutional goals and administrative and faculty
          commitments can alter the degree of success that might be
          obtained in recruiting and retaining minority students.
          However, those institutions that seem to reach a level of
          success more often than not start at the local level and
          then reach outward.  Further, institutions that have
          experienced success in improving minority recruitment and
          retention have one common element: they have developed a
          comprehensive approach for planning and coordination (Green,
                Institutions cannot examine the problem of recruitment
          and retention of minority students from the perspective of
          what's wrong with the student.  Instead, an approach should
          be taken that asks the question, "What's wrong with our
          institution?"  Such questioning might lead to the systematic
          self-analysis needed to initiate an overall institutional
          game plan as opposed to a piece-meal, fragmented manner for
          dealing with minority recruitment and retention (Bender &
          Blanco, 1987).
                University officials will be conducting a disservice
          if they merely gather up minority students from the inner
          city and drop them off as incoming freshmen at a far away,
          rural institution of higher education.  Many minority
          students from urban areas have received inadequate
          educations from academically and fiscally bankrupt school
          systems. A university located in a rural community may be a
          vastly different social, economical, and educational
          experience for minority students. The total experience and
          value structure of the university and its community might
          significantly affect minority students' decision to stay or
          drop out.
                Universities should not focus on the quantity of
          minority students that are recruited, but the quality of the
          transitional efforts that will permit minority students of
          vastly different backgrounds to achieve success socially,
          economically, and educationally. A beginning point is for
          university faculty and administrators to collectively review
          policies and common practices that might create barriers to
          success for minority students.  Minority students have a
          minimal chance of graduating without the benefit of a
          substantial institutional commitment to retention
          (Mancuso-Edwards, 1983, November 29).
                Organizational influences that can improve minority
          recruitment and retention include developing programs that
          help students with academic preparation problems,
          emphasizing precollege programs in relation to elementary
          and secondary schools, addressing multicultural
          environments, resolving organizational dilemmas of
          separatist versus support programs for minority students,
          creating proactive approaches to financial aid and examining
          opportunities for on-campus housing (Crosson, 1987).
                As opposed to minority student programs that merely
          focus on high enrollments, perhaps the following suggestions
          might be more appropriate for technology teacher education
          1.  Establish networks of information and referral with
          local schools and community colleges.  Technology teacher
          educationc departments need a well planned approach for
          recruiting and retaining minority students.  Within that
          plan, establishing a network will permit a timely flow of
          information among industrial and technology education
          students and faculty at secondary schools, community
          colleges and technology teacher educators at universities.
          A well orchestrated network will have much better results
          than the once a year contacts that are typically arranged by
          student recruiters.  A network will permit students and
          faculty to become familiar with technology teacher education
          programs and to recognize their strengths and weaknesses.
          2.  Technology teacher education programs do not need to
          start from scratch when building recruitment and retention
          efforts We must learn from the practices that have been
          tested by others.  Moe (1989), for example, found in the
          literature consistent identification of the basic
          requirements needed to foster minority recruitment and
          retention. Such enhancements can occur through institutional
          improvements including: a) academic assessment programs, b)
          tutorial and mentorship services, c) visible minority
          leadership and participation on campus, d) curriculum
          development, e) increased financial assistance, and f)
          supporting an environment that will stimulate learning in a
          multicultural setting.  Some recruitment and retention
          programs (as described in this manuscript) have been
          operating for many years.  Such models may be adapted to
          coincide with local community and institutional needs.
          Those characteristics of the community and institution must
          be carefully delineated to depict what variables might be
          viewed as enhancements or hindrances for recruiting and
          retaining minority students.
          3.  Technology teacher education departments should work in
          tandem with other campus offices and departments to increase
          the pool of minority students as opposed to competing with
          one another for the existing supply of minority students.
          For example, departments can collaborate to serve adult
          minority students through community based organizations,
          military programs, community colleges, public and private
          trade schools, apprenticeships, and organized labor.
          Constituents of these groups need to be aware of employment
          opportunities in technology education teaching.
          4.  Technology teacher educators should work actively with
          community based organizations. By establishing relationships
          with community based organizations, they can gain
          understanding of cultural characteristics of that particular
                The central theme of this article pertains to
          technology teacher education and the recruitment and
          retention of minority students.  But what about technology
          education as a secondary school discipline?  Can its content
          be established as a connecting force for minority
          participation in higher education?  Is there any aspect of
          its subject structure that sets it apart from other
          curriculum areas in articulation with higher education?  The
          technology education knowledge base lacks research and
          experience based conclusions to adequately answer the
          preceding questions.  However, we can gain insight into
          possible connections by examining the linkages that have
          been created among other disciplines and the recruitment and
          retention of minority students.
                The College Board has sponsored a project, called
          Equity 2000, to improve the college participation rate of
          students in six predominantly minority school districts.
          The program will require students of those districts to take
          algebra and geometry.  The project is based on research
          indicating that low-income and minority students who master
          algebra and geometry attend and graduate from college at
          approximately the same rate as higher income white students
          (Collison, 1991, June 12).  These findings should be of
          considerable interest to technology educators. Perhaps
          technology educators should seek avenues for using their
          curricula and laboratories to augment the success rate of
          minority students in algebra and geometry.  Contemporary
          secondary curricula such as principles of technology,
          automated manufacturing, and computer aided drafting can
          serve as news linkages among technology education and other
          academic teachers for the purposes of creating integrative
          curriculum projects.  Action research projects are needed in
          the field to pursue such endeavors.
                Medical education is another field of study worthy of
          examination by technology educators.  A report titled
          Recruitment and retention of minority medical students in
          S.R.E.B. states, by the Southern Regional Educational Board,
          was based on a survey of 45 medical schools.  The two
          institutions that had the highest proportion of black
          students (East Carolina and East Tennessee) both had summer
          programs designed to help disadvantaged students improve
          their skills.  At East Carolina University, the eight week
          summer program was considered to be the single best
          predictor for the student's success in medical school (Cage,
          1991). Perhaps similar skill building summer programs could
          be cooperatively structured across secondary technology
          education programs and technology teacher education
                We need to look across disciplines to find examples of
          successful minority recruitment and retention programs.  The
          declining number of minority teachers is a serious threat to
          the social ideals of public schools in a racially and
          culturally diverse democracy.  Technology teacher education
          programs should confront this problem with idealism,
          innovation, initiative, and (hopefully) added resources
          ("Work in Progress," 1989).   Minority teachers can play a
          critical role as empathetic mentors for minority students
          and as non-stereotypical examples for majority students
          (Gill, 1989).
                A singular solitary approach for minority recruitment
          will not adequately serve the diverse needs of blacks,
          Hispanics and/or Asians.  Recruitment and retention of
          students representing these groups will require technology
          teacher educators to become a good neighbor to these
          populations.  As good neighbors, we must try to establish
          long lasting friendships through networks, community based
          organizations, local schools and community colleges.  Such
          relationships are needed so that we can become more involved
          in grooming minority students for college at an earlier age
          (Magner, 1990, July 26).  As those friendships mature, we
          will have benefited from an increased knowledge base for
          serving the needs of minority students and greater success
          at recruiting and retaining minority students in technology
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Journal of Technology Education   Volume 4, Number 1       Fall 1992