Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Brooks Applegate

Second Advisor

Dr. Karen S. Vocke

Third Advisor

Dr. Jessaca Spybrook


Protective factors for Latinos, risk factors for Latinos, role of Latino parents, success case method, academic success of Latinos, Latinos and the Kalamazoo Promise


In public schools about one fourth of the students identify themselves as Latinos or of Hispanic origin. Unfortunately of those Latino children who began at the elementary level, only 40% of them will graduate from high school and about 11% of high school graduates will go on to postsecondary school. In order to improve these numbers, educators and policymakers cannot ignore the needs of this marginalized population.

This study focused on protective and risk factors that influence Latino student’s academic success and continuation into postsecondary school. This study furthermore explored how the Success Case Method (SCM), an evaluation technique used primarily in the business world, can be successfully applied in the field of education to study a marginalized population.

Key findings from this study reveal slightly different factors from traditional studies on the risks and protective factors of Latino students’ academic success. The findings from this study indicated that personal motivation, personal pride, parental support, adequate school programs and the impact of peers were, in that order, the reasons participants indicated as positive factors in their success. On the other hand, the study revealed that the lack of personal motivation and limited educational aspirations of young Latinos are primary risks factors for young Latinos’ lack of educational success. The family was identified to be a risk factor due to inadequate parental skills and having a detrimental effect to their success. Another risk factor was the lack of school involvement, an unsympathetic school environment where the needs of Latino students are not being met. Lastly, the study revealed that peer acceptance was a strong risk factor for young Latinos. In their desire to please their friends, school and academic goals turned out to be less important.

If Latinos are going to succeed in their educational aspirations and overcome their academic failures, a collective and early effort among students, parents, and schools is required. This study concludes by offering recommendations for future research investigating the Latino educational plight and for educators whose day-to-day behavior influences these young students.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access