Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Black Student Engagement: Resilience & Success under Duress

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Black Student Engagement: Resilience & Success under Duress

Article excerpt


Positive social and psychological college environments have an influence on students' educational passion and the efforts they put forth (Chen, Ingram, & Davis, 2014; Harper, Carini, Bridges, & Hayek, 2004). What leads to student engagement may be common for many students, yet it is also likely to differ due to many factors, among them race and ethnicity. Student demographics at higher-education institutions across the United States are shifting in ways that will place new demands on universities to be culturally responsive. Much of the current research on Black student engagement consists of large samples where Black students are underrepresented while others involve comparisons between predominantly Black institutions or predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Black students are attending schools that are demographically diverse; neither predominantly Black nor predominantly White, yet Black student engagement at these schools has seldom been investigated in-depth. Some of these campuses are demographically diverse, yet Black students remain underrepresented. Due to the failure to explore the experiences of Black students on these campuses, potential key factors to stimulate Black student engagement can remain unidentified. Additionally, considering the fact that Black students face unique challenges on such campuses, failure to conduct research on Black student experiences on these campuses may allow Black students to be systematically under-supported and disengaged, behind a veil of diversity.

Literature Review

The following review of the literature surveys the currently available research on the factors that influence Black student engagement. Several studies investigating differences between the engagement of Black students based on institutional types are described. The impact of racism on Black student success is summarized. Lastly, Black students' methods of social, psychological, and cultural resistance and resilience are described.

Black Student Engagement

Student engagement is the level of passion and interest students show in their learning experiences. According to Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie & Gonyea (2008), student engagement is "both the time and energy students invest in educationally purposeful activities and the effort institutions devote to using effective educational practices" (p.542). From this perspective, student engagement includes what institutions can do; such as adjusting teaching practices, developing programs like first-year seminars, service-learning courses, and learning communities (Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie & Gonyea, 2008). Ultimately, student engagement includes a component which focuses on the energy students put into their educational experiences, while the other includes the resources and efforts that institutions put into creating an environment that promotes student involvement (Chen, Ingram, & Davis, 2014).

According to Shappie & Debb (2017), student engagement is a multidimensional construct which includes three main components: behavioral (academic and social or extracurricular involvement), affective (affective reactions to teachers, peers, and the school), and cognitive (investment and mental effort). According to Harper, Carini, Bridges, and Hayek (2004), active student engagement positively affects cognitive and intellectual skill development, moral and ethical development, psychosocial development, and positive images of self. Research has found that African American students benefit more from educationally purposeful activities including, but not limited to studying, doing the reading for class, asking questions, meeting with professors to discuss grades, and working with other students on projects (Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie & Gonyea, 2008; Shappie & Debb, 2017). Some argue that student engagement has this differential effect, in part, because it compensates for the lower abilities of students from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups (Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie & Gonyea, 2008). …

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