Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Curriculum and Instruction
AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF Janette Howard, for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION, presented on APRIL 9, 2014 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: HOW DOES RACIAL IDENTITY EFFECT AFRICAN AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENTS ABILITY TO ASSIMILATE In A PREDOMINANTLY WHITE COLLEGE CAMPUSES AND ITS IMPACT ON RETENTION: A MIXED METHOD STUDY MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. John McIntyre, Examination Committee Chair The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to determine how racial identity of African American college students can impact their ability to assimilate on predominately White college campuses to the point of hindering their retention. This study was a sequential explanatory mixed method study. Phase one of the study was a quantitative survey consisting of 25 questions that was completed by N=125 African American students attending a Predominately White University in the Mid-West. Phase two of the study was a convenience sample of thirteen African American students living on and off campus. The following research questions were addressed to explore the research topic. (1) How does racial identity impact African American college students' ability to assimilate at a predominately White university with a high enrollment of African American college students? (2) How do African American college students perceive their college/university's commitment to them? (3) How do African American college students perceive their racial identity impacting their lives? The findings of the study showed that the complexities of racism and stereotypical perceptions made the process of assimilating into the college environment holistic, including social, academic, internal and external variables that impacted their ability to assimilate and form relationships needed to have a well-rounded college experience. However, many of the students interviewed felt some of the stereotypical perceptions are sometimes perpetuated by the actions of their Black peers. During a few of the interviews, students (N=7) described their dismay with the behavior that some of their peers exhibited. The participants that were interviewed felt that the students' success should be a shared responsibility. It should be up to the students to be accountable; one participant stated "too often people want to blame others for things that happen to them." Furthermore, he explained that he takes full responsibility for the 2.0 grade point he had at the end of the last semester, but he is now looking at a 3.2 for this semester. Many of the students expressed that they did feel the faculty and staff ratio could be more representative of the African American population. The students also felt the administration could do more to bring the students together as a whole, the students of color and the White students. The consensus of the interviews was that Black people as a whole, in the eyes of the boarder society, are not respected nor looked at as assets. Many of the students interviewed felt that if the Black students and the White students had more opportunities to engage outside of the classroom, they may see Blacks beyond the stereotypical perceptions.
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