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Title: Transitioning cultures : understanding the Black, collegiate culture at a U.S. Midwestern, predominantly White institution
Author: Smith, V.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 8846
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2016
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The number of Black students enrolling in 4-year higher education institutions in the United States is quickly approaching 2.5 million (Department of Education, 2016) leaving universities scrambling to find out more about this population, how to support them, and how to retain them through intentional programming. Comparatively, in 2013 there were almost 10 million White students enrolled in higher education institutions in the U.S. In Ohio, 75% of students in a bachelor’s degree program were retained from their first year to the second year (Ballotpedia, 2016). However, at the institution where this research takes place, retention of Black students from their first to second year hovers around 49%. Tinto (1988) stresses the importance of both social and academic integration for students to increase persistence for university students. For Black students, integration may involve adapting some of their social or cultural capital including their skill set, mannerisms and even language (Bourdieu, 1985; Bernstein, 2003). This study examines the experiences of a small group of Black students in their final years of study at Muskingum University, a PWI located in Ohio, U.S. A. The purpose of this study is to better understand the facets of the participant group, how they are supported while at the university, how studying at a rural, PWI impacts their experience, and the ways in which the participants felt they needed to change or adapt their own cultural characteristics in order to be successful within the institutional culture. I used a phenomenological methodology to understand the experiences that the nine, undergraduate student participants were sharing (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2011). Phenomenology allows reality to be defined by the perception of the participants which was important for me as a White practitioner conducting research on Black students (Moustakas, 1994). The study consisted of a questionnaire, an imagery component and two rounds of group interviews. The data was then self-transcribed and entered into the Atlas-ti software program and coded. The significance of this study is that all the participants were succeeding both socially and academically despite having a different cultural capital than the culture that had power at the institution. The experiences they were able to share provided insight into why they were able to be successful including building social capital through leadership positions and having a strong sense of ethnic pride to overcome microaggressions. The results of this study are unique as they combine several retention theories including Tinto’s retention and integration theory, Phinney’s ethnic identity theory and Bourdieu’s ideas on transferring social and cultural capital (Tinto, 1988; Phinney, 1992; Bourdieu, 1985). The recommendations from this study are aligned with the findings and the theories that support the data analysis. These recommendations include fostering a sense of ethnic pride and creating opportunities for expanded group membership. Developing a sense of belonging for Black students that are studying on predominantly White campuses is particularly salient for students that are struggling to adjust to a new culture.
Supervisor: Khan, P. ; Kelm, K. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral