Black students matter : a collective case study of a culture of CARE at a community college.


A 2019 report from the American Council of Education revealed stark inequities in higher education between minority students and their white counterparts (Espinosa et al., 2019). Of particular concern was the performance of Black students, who had continued to underperform in every measurable metric. Therefore, with this knowledge and the renewed nationwide focus on closing equity gaps in higher education, it is incumbent on colleges and universities to implement equity-minded strategies that will address the systemic issues that pose as barriers for minoritized students. Many institutions have begun implementing initiatives to close equity gaps (Baber et al., 2015; Long, 2016; McNair et al., 2020; Whistle & Hiler, 2018). This study, centered on Tinto’s interactionalist theory of college departure (Tinto, 1975, 1993), examined the strategic initiative implemented by Tallahassee Community College in 2019 to increase student achievement and to close racialized achievement gaps, especially for Black students, through its CARE model (Tallahassee Community College, Strategic Priorities and Alignment Report, 2019) to evaluate the perceptions of faculty, administrators, and students on the efficacy of the model, the study employed a collective case study research design (Creswell & Creswell, 2018; Creswell & Poth, 2018). The qualitative data included results from interviews and focus group sessions of campus administrators, faculty, and Black students. This study was an exploration of the implementation of holistic, equity-minded practices intended to increase student success, retention, and completion to close racial equity gaps. The study proceeded with an evaluative assessment of the efficacy of the CARE model (Tallahassee Community College, Strategic Priorities and Alignment Report, 2019) using the collective case study research design. The results of the study should be of great interest to higher education leaders, faculty, and policymakers. The study adds to the literature about equity-centered initiatives, the Black student experience in higher education, and campus culture change.