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An Exploration of Tinto's Integration Framework for Community College Students

By: Melinda Mechur Karp, Katherine L. Hughes & Lauren O'Gara


Tinto's integration framework is often assumed to be inapplicable to the study of student persistence at community colleges because one of the linchpins of the framework—social integration—is considered unlikely to occur for students at these institutions. Community college students are thought to lack the time to participate in activities, such as clubs, that would facilitate social integration.

Using in-depth interviews with students at two urban community colleges in the Northeast, the authors examine the ways that first-year community college students engage with their institutions. They find that the majority of them do develop attachments to their institutions, and that this sense of attachment is related to their persistence in the second year of college.

This integration is both academic and social, and  the same activities lead to both academic and social relatedness. This is particularly true for information networks that students develop in the classroom.

A version of this working paper was published in the Journal of College Student Retention, vol. 12, issue 1.