Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Understanding Research Methods to Study African American Males in College

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Understanding Research Methods to Study African American Males in College

Article excerpt

This article will explain the research methods conducted to study the experiences of Black males in college, specifically exploring the recent qualitative and quantitative studies that contribute to the understanding of this population. The piece begins with a review of the recent and current qualitative methods used to explore African American males in college. Such qualitative studies are prevalent in recent research on this population and focus on understanding the social, interpersonal, and intrapersonal transitions of Black males. The article then explores the recent quantitative methods used to understand this population. Quantitative approaches are less common in recent studies on African American males. These studies primarily measure rates of college satisfaction on the basis of grades, support, and identity. Overall trends in both qualitative and quantitative studies seek to measure academic completion or persistence to graduation as the focal point of research on African American males.

Readers will notice many more qualitative articles presented than quantitative. While this is not a meta-analysis of the literature, it is a presentation that is representative to the current state of research on African American males in college. The studies selected for this review were generated as the result of a comprehensive examination assignment to explore the current methods used to study the critical transitional experiences of the aforementioned population. In execution of this contextually broad assignment, literature queries include combinations of general and common search terms (e.g., African American, Black, college, higher education, males, men, transition, and university). The presentation of findings in this article represents an outline of the research material deemed most relevant. Moreover these results outline the prevalence of qualitative research methods over quantitative methods in recent literature on this topic, a large respective discrepancy that needs to be addressed in future research.


Many of the most current studies on the transitional experiences of African American males in college rely on qualitative research that focuses on comprehending dynamics, meaning, and context (Weiss, 1998). According to Creswell (2009), qualitative research provides the opportunity to explore and understand the meaning that individuals and groups assign to social and human problems:

The process of research involves emerging questions and procedures; collecting data in the participants' setting; analyzing the data inductively, building from particulars to general themes; and making interpretations of the meaning of the data. The final written report has a flexible writing structure. (p. 232)

Interviewing is a primary method of data collection that supports qualitative research. Many studies on African American males in college incorporate a qualitative research approach as means to identify and understand the experiences of this group on the basis of race, academics, and social experiences. Consequently the interview is a very common and versatile approach for collecting qualitative data (Weiss, 1998).


Many research studies on the experiences of Black males in the college setting use interview techniques to analyze this population. Bonner (2001) used interview tactics to conduct a study on 'academically gifted' African American males, comparing student perceptions of institutional support between a historically Black college and university (HBCU) and a predominantly White institution (PWI). The purpose of this study is to understand the factors that contribute to the success of academically gifted African American male college students. Using one selected participant from each institution, Bonner's data collection includes interviews of the academically gifted students, as well as interviews of 'critical others,' which include student peers, instructors, and administrators at each institution. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.