Latino success stories in higher education: A qualitative study of recent graduates from a health science center. Page: 42
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To illuminate the pathways that Latino students take through higher education and to
discover the possible reasons for their success at a health science center, the voices of the Latino
students themselves are important. Qualitative research methods assign value to the voices of
participants in a study (Watson et al., 2002). By assigning value to the voices of participants, in
this case Latino graduate students who have been academically successful by graduating,
researchers can uncover patterns or relationships among participants. This means participants tell
their stories in the context of their own lives, constructing meaning that helps them create a
framework for dealing with the world they have encountered. According to Sharan B. Merriam
(1998), reality is constructed by individuals, and it is the researcher's job to understand the
reality created by these individual study participants to determine how they make sense of the
world. Therefore, meaning or reality is embedded in people's experiences, which is why it is
imperative to understand lives lived or experiences from the participants' perspective. This
introduces the research framework in which this study was conducted: a life history analysis. The
use of a qualitative research study using life history poses an inherent problem, since the
researcher is the primary instrument for collecting data. Overcoming this problem and describing
the logic behind using qualitative research, in particular the life history technique, will follow in
the remainder of this chapter.
The purpose of educational research is to gain new knowledge about teaching, learning,
or educational administration to improve educational practice (Gall et al., 2003). This study
describes the pathways that particular Latino students have taken to educational success at a
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Colley, Kay Lynne. Latino success stories in higher education: A qualitative study of recent graduates from a health science center., dissertation, May 2007; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3687/m1/52/: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .