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Perceptions of Campus Climate by African American Students at a Predominantly White Institution

Napoli, Mary (2019) Perceptions of Campus Climate by African American Students at a Predominantly White Institution. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Studies show that despite the focus of much educational research on closing the gap in higher education between students from different socioeconomic or racial/ethnic backgrounds, the gap remains. While student characteristics do play a role in influencing educational attainment they do not explain the persistence of the gap. To understand this more fully, research has looked into how campus racial climates affect educational outcomes for underrepresented students. These studies have shown that culturally engaging campus environments help students feel a stronger sense of belonging on campus, which improves the likelihood they will eventually attain a degree. The purpose of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of the perception of campus climate by African American students at a predominantly white university utilizing the Culturally Engaging Campus Environments framework (Museus, Yi, & Saelua, 2017). For this study, I interviewed 17 African American students at the University of Pittsburgh about their experience on campus as related to aspects of cultural relevancy and cultural responsiveness to understand their perceptions of campus climate. These interviews provided insight into how students structure their campus environment in ways to promote their success by 1) fostering relationships with faculty and staff that are sources of cultural responsiveness and relationships with peers for a sense of cultural relevancy, 2) choosing peer groups and student organizations which provide support in navigating the mental and emotional load of their experience at a PWI, particularly as related to dealing with racial micro-aggressions, and 3) carefully considering to engage in cross-cultural interactions when given a choice as experiences of cross cultural engagement are complex. The implications of these results for practitioners in higher education are discussed and recommendations are provided on how to improve educational outcomes for African American students at the University.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Napoli, Marymlg92@pitt.edumlg92
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGunzenhauser,
Committee MemberAllen,
Committee MemberDeAngelo,
Date: 30 January 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 November 2018
Approval Date: 30 January 2019
Submission Date: 16 January 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 134
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: campus climate predominantly white institution
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2019 23:03
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2019 23:03


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