Date of Award

5-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Advisor

Havice, Pamela

Committee Member

Brewer , Curtis

Committee Member

Satterfield , James

Committee Member

Smith , Earl

Abstract

Black students' perceptions of their experiences on predominantly White campuses have been marred by a sense of isolation and alienation from the overall campus community. Black students do not feel they have sufficient access to important resources to satisfactorily navigate an unfamiliar campus environment. Support services for Black students, such as ethnically-themed student organizations or mentoring programs, have been implemented to react to and address such perceptions. A review of literature focused on Black student challenges on predominantly White campuses implicated the need for such support services, but there is a need in higher education to have a more detailed understanding of Black students' perceptions of these services and social networks.
The purpose of this study was to lay a foundation to detail Black students' perceptions on targeted support services on a predominantly White campus. This research study forms a basis for the description and understanding of Black students' experiences and perceptions of such support services. Knowledge of these perceptions will inform and encourage further research and practice in supporting Black students as they integrate into and navigate an unfamiliar institutional culture as part of a minority group.
For this study, phenomenology research methodology allowed Black students to describe their perceptions of targeted support services. Data collection methods included semi-structured, face-to-face, individual interviews conducted in the participants' natural setting, observations in related settings, and examination of relevant artifacts.
The results of the study revealed five emergent themes: a) Continuum of Involvement, b) Shared Racial/Cultural Experiences and Agenda, c) Racial/Cultural Identity Expression and Development, d) We are Family, and e) Centralized Hub of Information. The researcher discovered that a larger number of Black students perceived themselves as involved with targeted student support services than can be easily quantified. Additionally, Black students ranging from loosely associated to actively engaged with these services reaped benefits from their presence on campus. Participants described finding comfort from interacting with faculty, staff, and peers of the same race. Participants cited these services as providing a place to display their culture and belong to a close-knit community on campus. Also, participants explained how they saw Black student support services as a resource to help them with myriad issues that befall Black college students on a predominantly White campus.

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