What Factors Influence Affirmative-Action Students' Achievement in Brazilian Federal Universities?

Gabriela M Gillespie, Florida International University


This study aims to determine what personal and family characteristics, pre-college factors and environmental variables, contribute to affirmative action student success in Brazilian federal universities, as measured by the final college exam. In 2012, Brazil implemented an aggressive and controversial quota-system in federal universities which reserved half of the incoming class spaces to students who graduated from public high schools, followed by prioritization based on income and race. The study used secondary data collected by the Brazilian Ministry of Education; the population includes 6,557 graduating students from the sampled federal universities majors who completed the 2016 ENADE exam (final college exam). Using the IBM statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS), Statistics 24 was utilized to conduct hierarchical multiple regressions analyses. Hierarchical multiple regressions were run to determine if the addition of high school factors, pre-college variables, economic factors, social support variables, and individual involvement variables obtained from a survey improved the prediction of ENADE (college exit exam) scores over and above the family and student characteristic variables alone. The full model, inclusive of family income, age, sex, race, father’s educational level, mother’s educational level, high school location, traditional vs. non-traditional high school, public or private high school, reason for choosing major, university proximity to home, evening student, on-campus living, SES or disability quota type, STEM vs. Non-STEM majors, highly selective university, awarded scholarship, academic involvement scholarship, contributed to family finances, retention services financial need, working student, institutional and faculty support, received support while facing challenges, general social support to attend college, reading for pleasure, opportunity to learn a foreign language and number of hours spent studying – to predict ENADE overall score was statistically significant, R2=0.104, F(3,6529)= 50.915, R2=0.10. This study adds to prior research by extending U.S.-based student development theory, specifically Astin’s theory of student involvement to a new population, Brazilian university students. It also focuses on the academic achievement of quota-students only, giving legitimized quota-students in higher education, a space in which they have been habitually excluded and marginalized. Quota-students are primarily analyzed in the context of measuring up to the academic level of non-quota students.

Subject Area

Higher education|Ethnic studies|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Gillespie, Gabriela M, "What Factors Influence Affirmative-Action Students' Achievement in Brazilian Federal Universities?" (2019). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI28151180.