How faculty diversity affects underrepresented minority (URM) student completion rates at community colleges
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Underrepresented minority students (URM) graduate from community college institutions within the United States at lower rates than their non-URM peers (Shapiro, Dunbar, Wakhungu, Yuan, Nathan, and Hwang, 2017). Diverse faculty are essential to provide representation and act as mentors to diverse students while increasing URM belonging, retention, and completion (Means & Pyne, 2017; Tinto, 2017; Trolian, Jach, Hanson, & Pascarella, 2016; Xu Jade & Webber, 2018). This researcher sought to determine the relationship, if any, between the change in the diversity of the full-time and part-time faculty members within community colleges and the completion rate of URM students. This researcher used a correlational design nested within a quantitative methodology from a population defined as underrepresented students at community colleges within the United States. While the sample selected from IPEDS was limited to public, open-access, two-year degree-granting institutions within the United States employing a one-stage cluster sampling, enabling this researcher to focus on institutions serving the largest populations of URM students (Carnevale, Smith, & Strohl, 2013; Ma & Baum, 2016). Archival data were retrieved from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and analyzed using descriptive statistics and simple linear regression to investigate the relationship between the variables of, and the change in faculty diversity and completion rates of URM students (Salkind, 2014). Findings include a significant positive correlation between increasing the diversity of full- and part-time faculty and completion rates of URM students. However, non-URM student data showed a negative correlation for increasing full-time faculty and no correlation for increasing part-time faculty. For each of the tests, the R-squared value was extremely low, indicating the model did not explain all the potential variables affecting the outcome. Findings are important to institutional leaders who are integral in increasing the overall representation within the faculty body. Institutional leaders are also uniquely positioned to influence policy related to diversifying their faculty, which could improve representation of diverse faculty. Future researchers should investigate course-taking patterns of URM students and consider a multivariate study which addresses additional variables which can influence URM completion to understand what clusters of interventions produce the best completion rates.