Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Role of an HBCU in Supporting Academic Success for Underprepared Black Males

Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Role of an HBCU in Supporting Academic Success for Underprepared Black Males

Article excerpt


Both predominantly White institutions (PWIs) and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are experiencing low academic persistence rates of Black males. While researchers have focused on factors facilitating the retention and persistence for Black males at PWIs, a paucity of contemporary research has focused on the academic and social experiences of Black males at HBCUs. We used in-depth interview methods to investigate the academic and social experiences of 11 Black males, who entered a public HBCU through its remedial or developmental studies program and persisted to graduation. Although several themes emerged from this study, special attention was placed on the impact of an HBCU helping to facilitate Black male academic achievement. More specifically, participants in this study credited the university's racial composition, support from peers, faculty, and role models in helping to increase their propensity for learning and academic success.


In recent years, a plethora of academic literature has focused attention on the experiences of Black males in higher education. Researchers have argued that compared to their female counterparts, relatively few Black males are attending college. While this growing gender imbalance is not unique among Black students, it is reported to be more severe when compared to other racial and ethnic groups. For example, data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) revealed that in 2004, the postsecondary enrollment gender gap for Blacks reached 28.6%, compared to 8.7% in 1976 (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2007). Over the same time period, the gender gap was substantially smaller among other racial and ethnic groups. Specifically, among White, Asian, and Hispanic males and females, the gender gap in college enrollment was 11.8%, 7.5%, and 17.1% in 2004, and 4.7%, 8.6%, and 7.6%, respectively (NCES). Harper (2006a) noted that 67.6% of Black males, who enter college, do not persist to graduation within six years. According to Strayhorn (2008), of the 15 million undergraduate students enrolled in higher education institutions in the United States, fewer than 5% are Black males. Further he indicated that their enrollment in higher education is roughly the same as it was in 1976.

The staUis of Black males in higher education has served as an impetus for researchers to investigate the collegiate experiences of Black male collegians and focus on factors facilitating their retention and persistence. For example, in a qualitative study with 14 Black male undergraduates, Nathan (2008) explored critical factors believed to contribute to their academic success. She foimd that extrinsic and intrinsic characteristics were responsible for the academic success of these sUidents. More specifically, she explained that their relationships with friends and family were factors used to enhanced their retention and persistence in college. Also, sUidents reported that they were personally responsible for their collegiate success. McClure (2006) explored the impact that a historically Black fraternity had on the college experience and academic success of 20 of its members. According to her sUidy, engagement in a fraternal organization created a sense of community and helped to engender a supportive environment thereby increasing sUidents' academic success and satisfaction with their college experience. Similarly, Harper and Harris (2006) purported that fraternal engagement of Black males facilitated leadership, cognitive development, and racial identity. Although not focused exclusively on Black males, Strayhorn and Terrell (2007) measured the impact of faculty-student mentoring with 554 Black sUidents and found that establishing a meaningful mentoring relationship with a faculty member enhanced college satisfaction for Black students.

In a recent chapter published in Cuyjet's (2006) book on Black college men, Brown (2006) emphasized that Black males are disengaged on campus. …

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