Academic Preparedness and Exposure to Agriculture and Natural Resources Majors and Careers for Migrant Farmworker College Students through Customized Classroom Instruction

By Celina Wille, PhD and Brenda Alston-Mills, PhD.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 15, 2017 $US5.00

Since 2001, the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) at Michigan State University has been recruiting and graduating first-generation Latino and Haitian college students from migrant farmworker (MFW) backgrounds to help them break the cycles of migration, low educational attainment, and poverty. In partnership with CAMP, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at Michigan State University (MSU) developed a freshman-level course focused on college preparedness and career awareness in the agriculture and natural sciences in support of these students’ academic success and agricultural backgrounds. To date, the course has been taught to nearly 200 students in five separate cohorts. This article presents an overview of pedagogies and customized classroom instruction strategies for these groups and reviews the short-term outcomes of the course as it relates to students’ perceptions of their college preparedness and their awareness of and interest in majors and careers in agriculture and natural resources. Three years of pre- and post-course data were compiled and analyzed using a brief survey that gathered participants’ demographics, knowledge of available academic support services, and knowledge of CANR majors. A modified College and Career Readiness scale and supplemental questions regarding current major, academic advisor selection, program funding, and resume preparation were included in the questionnaire. Additionally, data on CAMP students majoring in CANR fields were reviewed to identify major and career choice trends three years before and three years after course implementation. Overall, positive increases in knowledge regarding support services and CANR majors were observed for all cohorts. Most significantly, the number of students currently pursuing CANR degrees increased from 17 percent to 33 percent between 2009 and 2015. These positive outcomes highlight the importance of customized instruction anchored on enabling pedagogies to promote a climate of successful transition and inclusion for first-generation college students with a migrant farmworker background at Michigan State University.

Keywords: Migrant Farmworker, Academic Preparedness, Agriculture and Natural Resources Majors and Career Awareness, Customized Classroom Instruction

The International Journal of Diversity in Education, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 15, 2017 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.304MB)).

Celina Wille, PhD

Associate Director, Office of Diversity and Pluralism, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Brenda Alston-Mills, PhD

Associate Dean, Office of Diversity and Pluralism, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA