Hispanic students and higher ed – a followable path reveals itself


Hall, R. E., & Rowan, G. T. (2001). Hispanic-American males in higher education: A

descriptive/qualitative analysis. Education, 121(3), 565-574. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/196438890?accountid=41434


Hall and Rowan’s (2001) article “Hispanic-American Males in Higher Education: A Descriptive/Qualitative Analysis” describes the initial oppression that Hispanic-American encounter with regards to education in America. Some of these forms of oppression include: unemployment, imprisonment, and poverty (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 565). Due to this, Hall and Rowan (2001) call for this in their article, “In an effort to reverse dropout rates programs and policies must accommodate Hispanic-American males who are less academically prepared but who have the potential for success in higher education” (p. 565). The authors describe trends in the education of Hispanic students in detail. Hall and Rowan use data to illuminate graduation rates of Hispanics versus non-Hispanics, but also the authors sub-divide and compare different portions of students deemed Hispanic like Puerto Ricans versus Mexican-Americans. Ultimately, the authors put the onus onto Higher Education in general as not doing enough to support Hispanic-American students. Talented Hispanic-American students should not be dropping out of college, and the policy process should be further counter-balanced towards enabling Hispanic-American students to graduate.

Hall and Rowan’s (2001) article, as mentioned, focuses on a myriad of different data sets when describing the problems related to Hispanics in high education. The authors also offer philosophic arguments as reasons to support change: “Consummate societies require human perfection which is beyond the possibilities of human endeavor and thus is an ideal. As a viable alternative, higher education can maximize the benefits of human development by designing/redesigning policies to accommodate Hispanic-American males” (p. 573). This strongly-worded article has numerous implications for the issues of retaining intelligent and talented Hispanic students in higher education institutions. The greatest being its focus on higher ed institutions’ role in all of this. No longer should drop-out rates be looked at solely as failures of the young Hispanic individual. There is more to it – college and universities must realize their role in all of this and redouble their efforts to support their Hispanic learners.


This report was clearly organized and easy to follow. The authors stated the problem at the onset of the text and worked from there.

Contribution to Field

This article contributed to the field as it first offered a comprehensive review of literature on the predecessors in the field of study. The authors created, in their words, a non-exhaustive analysis of focused-grouped questions given to groups of Hispanic college students. The authors utilized these groups for collection of their data, using “eight to twelve Hispanic American male college students and lasted 60 to 90 minutes” (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 570).

Literature Review

This article’s strength just might be its Literature Review. As mentioned, it builds nicely on what came previously, interweaving the research and analysis of some of the older texts and articles that exist on this subject. Because of this, it serves as a foundational piece and starting point from which to proceed when looking at Hispanic students in higher education.

Data Collection

The methods for data collection and the data itself are not what make this article interesting. The data is taken from surveys given to Hispanic students on college campuses. It asks the students to define and expound upon issues that they’ve faced in their time at college. For instance, one survey question is: “3 What problems did/do you have enrolling and staying in school?” (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 571). Another example of a survey question is: “5 What ideas do you have for successfully educating Hispanic-American males?” (Hall and Rowan, 2001, p. 571). These questions – purposely open-ended – might be a challenge for young Hispanic students in the sense that asking questions like this to students pursuing an undergrad degree, young men in their early twenties, would not allow for the depth of reflection as, for instance, a student seeking a Masters or Doctoral degree.


To me, this is where this process became interesting in this article. The data collectors organized keywords that were repeated in these surveys and interviews. It almost felt as if they were collecting and organizing keywords as a Wordle does, but it was deeper than that. It, again, was interesting to me when the authors described the time-consuming process which now can be done in seconds using some of the algorithm software that is out there today for data organization. Still, the gesture was noble (not to mention it seemed novel for its time), and its results continue to be useful and valid in their field of study. The authors did utilize a computer program which they did mention, but this was technology circa 2001, not what is used today. Ultimately, the data was organized alphabetically and a color-coded system was used as well.

Theoretical Framework/Lens

I saw the hermeneutic for this article as one of outsiders looking in as a means of gaining knowledge. This knowledge, once illuminated, could potentially aid the next group of Hispanic scholars seeking higher education. I see this as a data collection for the purpose of gaining wisdom, a wisdom that could be passed down – almost as if the authors sought to create a document of “things I wish I knew before I started college” for Hispanic students. They went about this in innovative ways. Instead of creating a detailed list of student responses, the authors accumulated survey data and took it to original and new places.

Findings & Conclusions

The authors findings were not dismaying at all, but I noticed the types of Hispanic students who succeed in college, as listed in this article, are ones who are highly motivated and self-starters who transcended their peer groups. These students did not seem to be part of the norm or involved in groups of students who all went on to college. They were the exceptions, not the rules. And so, in one sense, not much can be gleaned from the findings – “special students will do special things” comes to mind. But that’s not the success of this article. We know now that, in spite of great challenges, special Hispanic students do make it to college, and they do find success. How does one become special? Well, that’s the challenge, but at least now a template or precedent has been set which those who seek this path and come after can follow.

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Steve Smith

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