Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Bridging Student Engagement and Satisfaction: A Comparison between Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly White Institutions

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Bridging Student Engagement and Satisfaction: A Comparison between Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly White Institutions

Article excerpt

Over the last 40 years, numerous studies have been conducted on the impacts of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) on African American students. An overwhelming majority of these studies attested to the beneficial academic and developmental effects of HBCUs for African American students (Allen, 1992; Astin, Tsui, & Avalos, 1996; Bonous-Hammarth & Boatsman, 1996; Davis, 1991; Fleming, 1984; Harper et al., 2004; Kim & Conrad, 2006; Roebuck & Murty, 1993; Seifert, Drummond, & Pascarella, 2006). Numerous other studies compared aspects of African American undergraduate experiences at HBCUs and predominantly White institutions (PWIs) and concluded that African American students learned better and were more satisfied at HBCUs than at PWIs (Bohr et al., 1995; Cokley, 1999; DeSousa & Kuh, 1996; Flowers & Pascarella, 1999; Kim & Conrad, 2006; Palmer & Gasman, 2008; Watson & Kuh, 1996).

Among these studies, many have addressed the topic of student engagement, and some addressed the issue of student satisfaction, but few focused on the relationships between student engagement and student satisfaction (Outcalt & Skewes-Cox, 2002). Researchers have found that positive student satisfaction is connected with higher student persistence, better word-of-mouth reputation of the institution (Schreiner, 2009), more alumni involvement, and increased financial contributions (Gaier, 2005; Miller & Casebeer, 1990; Monks, 2003), all of which are desirable outcomes of higher education. Therefore, the authors wondered if increasing student engagement would lead to higher student satisfaction at HBCUs, which in turn may lead to the above-mentioned desirable outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between student engagement and student satisfaction for African Americans who enrolled at HBCUs and PWIs. For the purpose of this study a new method of selecting peer institutions for HBCUs was adapted, which would yield a more comparable group of institutions.


Student Engagement and Satisfaction

Alexander Astin's (1984, 1985, 1991) theory of student involvement and educational assessment framework-input-environment-outcome (I-E-O) model-provided the foundation and conceptual framework to understand the importance and impact of college student engagement. The last several decades have seen voluminous research in college student development supporting Astin's claim that the time and energy students devote to educationally purposeful activities is one of the best predictors of their learning and personal development in college (Astin, 1993; Carini, Kuh, & Klein, 2006; Kuh et al., 2008; Kuh et al., 2010; Pace, 1980; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005). Wolf-Wendel and associates (2009) pointed out that the concept of student engagement actually includes two components. The first component of student engagement is what Astin called student involvement, which is the amount of physical and psychological energy students devote to educational experiences. The second component of student engagement involves how many resources and efforts an institution puts into creating and maintaining a nurturing environment that promotes student involvement (Kuh, 2001). The importance of the second component of student engagement is that institutions that more fully engage their students in educational activities can claim to be of higher quality in comparison with similar types of colleges and universities (Kuh, 2004).

Certain institutional practices are known to lead to high levels of student engagement. For example, in 1987, Chickering and Gamson published the "Seven Principles of Good Practices in Undergraduate Education." These seven principles have been studied extensively and dispensed widely in many aspects of American higher education (Caboni, Mundy, & Duesterhaus, 2002; Chickering & Gamson, 1999; Poulsen, 1991;Rosch&Nocerino, 2007; Sorcinelli, 1991; Whitt et al. …

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