Journal of Technology Education

Journal of Technology Education

Current Editor: Chris Merrill,
Previous Editors: Mark Sanders 1989-1997; James LaPorte: 1997-2010

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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.
                         RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION
                               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