Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Advisor

Dr. Tony Cawthon

Committee Member

Dr. Todd Chamberlain

Committee Member

Dr. Russell Marion

Committee Member

Dr. James Satterfield

Abstract

This narrative inquiry intended to capture the lived stories told by nine, full-time, undergraduate students, who self-identified as two or more races, to better understand their perceptions of campus climate at a predominately white institution (PWI). The conceptual framework consisted of the study of multiraciality, Renn’s Ecological Theory of Mixed Race Student Identity Development, perceptions of campus climate at a PWI, and the relationships between perceptions of campus climate and individual differences.

A written prompt activity and background questions elicited written and verbal responses that assisted with identifying ecological factors and identity patterns of each study participant. Each study participant was asked to take photographs of their environment that influenced how they perceived the campus climate as a mixed race student attending a PWI and assign each photograph a one-word hashtag title. Nine, audiotaped, semi-structured, photo-elicitation interview sessions produced additional narrative data elicited by 33 photographs and one-word hashtag titles.

Photo-elicitation interviews were transcribed for further analysis. In vivo coding and thematic analysis was applied to discover emerging themes and relationships between perceptions of campus climate and individual differences. Four major areas of campus climate and ten sub-themes of perceptions emerged from the photographs, one-word hashtag titles, and narrative data: Classroom Climate (isolating and close), Peers Climate (divided by like-groups,) Spaces Climate (diverse, enjoyable, beautiful and evil, peaceful, and unifying), and University Climate (responsive and unresponsive). Relationships were explored and discovered between study participants’ perceptions of campus climate and their individual differences.

Evidence from this study provides higher education professionals and administrators access into the lives of mixed race students. With a better understanding how they experience and perceive campus climates at PWIs, supportive learning environments can be created that includes all students. The perceptions and the relationships between perceptions of campus climate and individual differences expands the literature which currently lacks stories told by mixed race students.

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