Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Cuyjet, Michael J.

Author's Keywords

Engagement; Success; Higher education; African American students; Historically black colleges & universities; Persistence


African American college students; Academic achievement--Social aspects; College attendance


The study examined the relationship between African American student engagement and student background variables through the context of institution type. The study focused on the impact of student background variables (mother's level of education, father's level of education, enrollment status, sex, and grade point average) on student engagement, while taking into account institution types. Differences in engagement levels between different types of institutions were explored. Engagement variables were measured as benchmarks of effective educational practice gathered from the National Survey of Student Engagement. The results indicated that African American students had significantly higher grade point averages when attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as compared to African American students who attended Predominately White Institutions (PWIs). Additionally, institution type was found to be a significant predictor of all NSSE benchmark scores with the exception of Level of Academic Challenge. Enrollment status was found to be a significant predictor of all NSSE benchmark scores with the exception of Supportive Campus Environment, and grade point average was a significant predictor of all NSSE benchmark scores. Students at HBCUs scored reported significantly higher levels of student engagement on all NSSE benchmarks with the exception of Level of Academic Challenge when compared to students at PWIs. Surprisingly, no significant differences were found in institutional African American six year graduation rates when comparing students by institution type. Implications for practice and suggestions for future research are also considered.