Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Understanding the Relationships among Racial Identity, Self-Efficacy, Institutional Integration and Academic Achievement of Black Males Attending Research Universities

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Understanding the Relationships among Racial Identity, Self-Efficacy, Institutional Integration and Academic Achievement of Black Males Attending Research Universities

Article excerpt

This study asserts that African American males with higher grade point averages (GPAs) in college are also academically and socially integrated into campus and hold racial identity attitudes and self-efficacy beliefs that facilitate their level of institutional integration. The statistical study of 190 African American males attending five research universities reveals that successful African American males report a heightened sense of self-efficacy and were more satisfied with opportunities to interact with faculty. Black males with higher GPAs in college also report higher levels of faculty and social integration, though the relationship is moderated by their racial identity attitudes. Recommendations for improving educational outcomes of Black males attending predominantly White research universities are made.

Keywords: Black males, college, achievement

Introduction

African American college-going rates have been on the rise since the late 1960s (Brubacher & Rudy, 2003). This enrollment progress, however, masks a troubling trend in American higher education. According to the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS, U.S. Department of Education, 2010a, 2010b) data, African American males make up just 36 percent of all Blacks enrolled in higher education, and only four percent of the total college enrollment. More disturbing is the gap between the bachelor's degrees awarded to African American males and females, a development that began nearly 40 years ago ("Special Report: College Degree Awards," 1999). Black women earned 66 percent of all bachelor's degrees conferred to African Americans in 2008-2009 and a substantial majority of all master's and non-professional doctoral degrees (U.S. Department of Education, 2009).

Contributing to the degree gap is the disproportionate percentage of Black males who fail to complete their postsecondary education. Only 33 percent of African American men attending four-year institutions graduated in six years-the lowest of all population segments-compared to 44 percent of Black women, and 57 percent of White males (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). The graduation gap between Black males and females is the largest gender gap of any subpopulation.

Researchers have proffered disparate theories to explain the low collegiate achievement and high attrition of Black males, including societal discrimination ("Special Report: College Degree Awards," 1999; Wilson, 1996); inadequate pre-college preparation (Cuyjet, 1997; Gainen, 1995; May, 2002; Palmer et al., 2010); financial constraints (Cuyjet, 1997); cultural factors (Coleman et al., 1966; Ogbu, 1990) and genetic deficits (Coleman et al., 1966; Hermstein & Murray, 1994). However, these suppositions neglect the role of institutional factors within colleges and universities in patterns of underachievement. A few seminal studies about persistence suggest that certain in-college factors may exert a greater influence on collegiate achievement than precollege variables (Astin, 1993; Bowen & Bok, 1998; Bowen, Chingos & McPherson, 2009; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991).

Tinto (1993) and others (Brown, 1995; Davis, 1994; Johnson, 1993; Palmer & Gasman, 2008; Strayhorn, 2008, 2010) maintained that students, especially Black males who perceive high levels of institutional support, faculty contact, and peer cohesion and congruence with the mainstream of campus life are more likely to graduate. However, little is known about whether the same factors influence the achievement or cumulative grade point average (GPA, not just persistence) of Black males in predominantly White institutions (PWIs) where the majority of Black males are enrolled (Baker, 2007; Knapp, Kelly-Reid, & Whitmore, 2006; Strayhorn, 2010). Furthermore, one knows far less about possible motivational and psychosocial processes that may foster or hinder their campus integration.

This study extends Tinto's (1993) argument that in-college perceptions and experiences may interact with personal attributes and attitudes to moderate levels of institutional integration. …

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