Promising student services practices in the African American learning community

This exploratory qualitative study examines the student services practices and experiences of African American students in three community colleges. The study addresses important issues of college retention, transfer, and integration of support services and instruction for African American learners through the vehicle of targeted learning communities. The study uses a conceptual model that integrates retention theory, critical race theory, culturally responsive pedagogy theory, and integration of instruction and student services theory. The integration of these theories results in a combination of physical, cultural, and instructional Third Space in the learning community experience. The study finds that students use support services that are accessible, intrusive, and integrated with the instructional component. The findings further suggest the significance of identity in African American college students, in that identity is crucial to the socio-academic development of African American students and should be supported by the institution. The study findings have important implications for community college and higher education policy and practice in the success and retention of African American students.