Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2023


This study aimed to identify the risk and protective factors that influence persistence, retention, and degree attainment among academically underprepared male students at a community college in Northern New Mexico. Understanding the context of developmental education was deemed crucial for this research, as open-access institutions, particularly community colleges, serve as the starting point for many students' educational journeys. Evaluating the experiences and educational pathways of these students is of great importance to address the existing achievement gaps. The research focused on understanding the experiences of these students and the factors that hindered or supported their persistence and degree completion.

By comprehensively examining the academic and socio-cultural experiences of academically underprepared male students, this study aimed to shed light on the multifaceted factors that contribute to the current disparities in achievement. Various variables and challenges influence these participants, making it crucial to understand their experiences as they navigated the higher education system. The issues of matriculation, preparation, and placement are identified as significant factors affecting academic success at the postsecondary level. Through this research, valuable insights were gained into the factors that contribute to the achievement gaps, thereby informing strategies to enhance student success within the community college setting. By examining the factors such as prior academic preparation, support systems, personal motivation, and the level of institutional commitment, motivation, and sense of belonging, this study provides insight into the interplay between individuals and institutions and how risk and protective factors can impact persistence, retention, and degree completion.

Notably, the completion of remedial coursework built the confidence and skills necessary for engagement in college-level math and English classes. Moreover, the identified protective factors had a positive influence on students' progress, enabling them to meet degree requirements and earn associate degrees despite their initial academic under preparedness upon entering the institution. The presence of cultural capital, encompassing knowledge, skills, and resources, empowered students to navigate the challenges they faced, while the support and encouragement from families and communities played a crucial role. Additionally, academic support services, including developmental coursework, study skills workshops, and supplemental instruction, proved to be valuable resources that assisted students in overcoming academic challenges and supported their persistence, retention, and degree completion.


Academically Underprepared Males, Developmental Education, Risk and Protective Factors

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Level of Degree


First Committee Member (Chair)

Allison M. Borden

Second Committee Member

Shawn Secatero

Third Committee Member

Tyson Marsh

Fourth Committee Member

Viola Florez