Date of Award

4-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Jianping Shen

Second Advisor

Dr. Donna Talbot

Third Advisor

Dr. Larry Roper

Abstract

This study takes an in-depth look at the experiences of 12 Black males who graduated between 2001 and 2012 from a private, faith-based, predominantly White institution of higher education, with a purpose to better understand the essence of their collegiate experiences. Most research on minority college enrollment has focused on reasons why students of color do not persist (Bowen, Chingos & McPherson, 2009; Douthat, 2005; Tinto, 1993; Western, Schiraldi & Ziedenberg, 2003). Rather than rehearsing reasons for attrition, my dissertation investigated the essence of their collegiate experiences and what could be learned from Black males who did persist to graduation, with a particular focus on the personal and institutional factors influencing their educational journey.

A qualitative research methodology was used to understand the participants’ experience, focusing on the following research questions: How do Black males who graduated from a private, faith-based, predominantly White institution of higher education describe their college experiences? What do they describe as the key personal factors that contributed to their success? What were the personal obstacles they had to overcome? What do they describe as the key institutional factors that contributed to their success? What were the key institutional obstacles they had to overcome in order to succeed? Analysis of the data revealed noncognitive factors positively influenced their educational journey, including (a) their own self-efficacy; (b) overall welcoming “feel” of campus; (c) personal alignment with the campus culture; and (d) availability of support through family; campus mentors; and peers. The participants also shared personal and institutional obstacles they had to overcome in order to persist, including (a) academic challenges; (b) minority sub-community drama; (c) coping with suspension and dismissal; (d) minority fatigue; (e) paying for college; and (f) campus policy disconnect.

For institutions of higher education, especially private, faith-based universities, the findings from this research study identify and suggest noncognitive factors of the student experience are a means to address key structural and cultural factors that can positively impact the success of Black males and perhaps other minority student groups.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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