Exploring the relationship between critical consciousness and intent to persist in immigrant Latina/o college students
The purpose of this investigation was to develop a testable integrative social cognitive model of critical consciousness (Freire, 1973) that explains the relationship between critical consciousness and intent to persist in college among underserved students, such as undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers. Three constructs based on theory (i.e., critical reflection, critical action, and political efficacy) as well as a new one (i.e., political outcome expectations) were conceptualized and tested through a framework inspired by Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994; Lent & Brown, 2013). A total of 638 college students participated in this study and reflected a spectrum of disadvantage and educational attainment, which included 120 DREAMers, 124 Latina/o students, 117 non-Latina/o minorities, and 277 non-Latina/o Whites. Goodness of fit tests showed support for the adequacy of using the new model with this diverse sample of students. Tests of structural invariance indicated that 10 relational paths in the model were invariant across student cultural groups, while 7 paths were differentiated. Most of the differences involved DREAMers and non-Latina/o White students. For DREAMers, critical action was positively related to intent to persist, while that relationship was negative for non-Latina/o Whites with legal status. Findings provide support to the structure of critical consciousness across cultural groups, highlight the key role that students’ supporters (i.e., important people in their life) play in their sociopolitical engagement and intent to persist, and suggest that political outcome expectations are related to higher persistence intention across all students.