Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

The Same. but Different: Examining Background Characteristics among Black Males in Public Two-Year Colleges

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

The Same. but Different: Examining Background Characteristics among Black Males in Public Two-Year Colleges

Article excerpt

This study examined background characteristics among Black males in public two-year and four-year institutions. This study sought to uncover whether significant differences existed among this sub-group by institutional type. Data were derived from 533 Black male students participating in the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study. The analysis was conducted using two stages of logit analysis. In the first stage, individual logistic regressions were conducted with eighteen variables. In the second stage, significant variables from the first stage were analyzed using appropriate controls. Findings from this study illustrated that Black males at two year colleges are markedly different from those attending four year institutions. Even when statistical controls were set in place, findings illustrated that while Black males share the same racial/ethnic and gender identity there are numerous distinctions between institutional types on background variables. Implications for future research are delineated.

Keywords: African American males, two-year colleges, four-year colleges, logistic regression

The vast majority of literature on African American males in higher education portrays their experience as monolithic. This homogenous depiction of Black male collegians fails to acknowledge their distinct backgrounds, social interactions, cultural variations, and affiliations. While Black males share commonalities with respect to racial/ethnic and gender affiliation, less is known about how they differ (Harper & Nichols, 2008). Delving into the intricacies of the African American experience in education is part of a growing movement in scholarly literature which rejects their monolithic treatment by scholars and practitioners alike and suggests that understanding their differences is foundational to enhancing their status in postsecondary education (Cuyjet, 2006; Harper, 2004, 2005, 2006; Harper & Quaye, 2007; Strayhora & Terrell, 2010; Wood & Turner, 2011). Differences between student sub-groups, including Black males, should not be trivialized, as they suggest the need for strategic planning, programming, activities, and policies which address the unique needs of students (Nevarez & Wood, 2010). With this in mind, this article presents a study that explicates differences between Black males by institutional type.

STUDY PURPOSE AND SIGNIFICANCE

The purpose of this study was to examine background characteristics among Black males in public two-year and four-year institutions. Specifically, this study sought to uncover whether significant differences existed among this sub-group by institutional type. Consequentially, the primary research question guiding this study was: Are there differences in background characteristics between Black males in public two-year colleges and those in four-year colleges? The null hypothesis employed in this study assumed that no significant differences would be detectable between these two groups; while the alternative hypothesis was that significant differences would indeed exist. This study conceptualized background characteristics as defined by Nevarez and Wood (2010) to "include characteristics associated with students' personal, social, and economic status, previous academic performance, as well as their parental socioeconomic status and level of education among other variables" (p. 87). This definition is also similar to Bean and Metzner's (1985) description of background and defining variables, inclusive of pre-collegiate factors that directly and indirectly impact college (e.g., high school performance, collegiate expectations, age).

A study of this nature lends support for information needed to better understand student success. While students' background factors cannot be viewed in a fatalist fashion as predetermining their success in college, students with certain characteristics are certainly less likely than others to be retained, graduate, or transfer (Nevarez & Wood, 2010). …

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