Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Adriana McEachern

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Patricia Barbetta

Third Advisor's Name

Tonette Rocco

Fourth Advisor's Name

Linda Spears-Bunton

Keywords

factors, self-efficacy, persistence, senior, Black, ethnicities, Hispanic serving institution

Date of Defense

7-13-2012

Abstract

While undergraduate enrollment of all racial groups in United States higher education institutions has increased, 6-year graduation rates of Blacks (39%) remain low compared to other races; Asians (69%), Whites (62%), and Hispanics (50%; NCES, 2010). Women’s graduation rate is higher than men’s; 58% compared to men’s at 53% in public institutions (IPEDS, 2011). Retention literature does not address the perceptions of Black ethnic groups’ experiences in college, particularly in Hispanic serving institutions.

Informed by Tinto’s (1975, 1987, 1993) student academic and social integration model, Guiffrida’s (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006) model of relationships while at college, and ex-post facto research design, the study investigated personal and institutional factors that relate to Black students’ self-efficacy and persistence to the senior year in college.

Data about Black ethnic undergraduate seniors’ (N = 236) academic and social experiences in college were collected using the Student Institutional Integration Survey (SIIS), an online questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to collect background information about the sample, correlation was calculated to indicate the degree of relationship between the variables, and multiple linear regressions were used to identify variables that are predictors of self-efficacy of persistence. Independent samples t-test and analyses of variance were computed to determine whether differences in perceptions of personal and institutional factors that relate to self-efficacy of persistence to the senior year in college could be identified between gender and ethnicity.

Frequency was summarized to identify themes of participants’ primary motivation for finishing undergraduate degree programs. These themes were: (a) self-pride/personal goal, (b) professional aspiration/career (c) motivation to support family, (d) desire to have financial independence/better job, (e) to serve community, (f) opportunity to go to college, (g) being first-generation college student, and (h) prove to family the value of higher education.

The research findings support the tenets of academic and social integration theories which suggest that students’ interaction with peer and faculty, relationships with family and friends, and involvement in institutional activities and organizations influence their persistence in college.

Implications based on the findings affect institutional policy, curriculum, and program improvements that relate to Black undergraduate students’ academic and social support.

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