Persisting at predominantly white institutions: African Caribbean college students narrate their U.S. academic experiences and administrators' perspectives

Annjanet Woodburn, Fordham University

Abstract

Retention and graduation rates for minorities, especially African Americans, tend to be lower than for their White peers. Although much research exists on retention and factors that affect retention of African American students, very little seems to address African Caribbean students. The rationale for this qualitative study grew out of the researcher's desire to learn about African Caribbean students and their experiences at predominantly White institutions of higher education in the United States. The researcher hoped that the findings on the persistence of African Caribbean students may lead institutions and administrators to re-examine the current supports they now provide as they attempt to improve student retention for all students. ^ The data collection methods included interviews, observations, and document analysis. The research sample included 10 African Caribbean students between the ages of 18 and 28 pursuing undergraduate degrees (Bachelors) and 3 administrators at two predominantly White institutions located in the New York area. ^ Nine findings emerged from the data and provided insight on how African Caribbean students persist at predominantly White institutions of higher education and on administrators' perspectives. The findings related to factors that could improve retention include: (a) having access to and having a relationship with faculty; (b) involvement in extracurricular activities, such as organizations, clubs, and sports; (c) being prepared for college; (d) the support of their families and friends; (e) students' understanding and use of the social and cultural capital of their Caribbean background; (f) fitting in at the predominantly White institutions; (g) positive interactions with administrators; (h) positive and upbeat attitudes about their future; and (i) administrators' positive perspectives. Most of these findings found support in the extant literature as having an impact on the retention of African American students. However, what was unique for the African Caribbean students was the social and cultural capital that they used as motivation for their persistence. ^ The researcher offered 10 recommendations for administrators, faculty, and staff for improving student retention based on the experiences of the African Caribbean students as well as other student populations.^

Subject Area

Black Studies|Caribbean Studies|Education, Higher Education Administration|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Annjanet Woodburn, "Persisting at predominantly white institutions: African Caribbean college students narrate their U.S. academic experiences and administrators' perspectives" (January 1, 2011). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3461908.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3461908

Share

COinS