African American students' academic experiences at a predominantly White institution: A critical -interpretive approach to assessing organizational climate

Mary Louise Phelon-Rucker, Purdue University

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to investigate African American students' academic experiences at a predominantly white institution. The project involved a qualitative study of African American students' perceptions of the campus climate at The University (a pseudonym used for the university targeted in this study). Twenty-one African American students were interviewed. The study reported herein used the critical race approach to examine African American students' perceptions of campus climate. I suggested that race should be taken into account when studying organizational climate and a critical race approach must be employed. Such an approach introduces a new level of theoretical analysis. Another objective of this study was to expand organizational theory by including and/or writing in “race” for studying organizational climate, since the traditional view and ways of writing about organizational climate was not representative of people of color and was, therefore, limited. In this study, three fundamental questions were posed: (1) Do African Americans perceive they are devalued at The University and, if so, what factors contribute to their devaluation? (2) Do African Americans perceive they are alienated from the center of campus life at The University and, if so, what factors contribute to their alienation? (3) Do African Americans perceive conflict and avoidance in their day-to-day interactions with faculty members and, if so, in what context do they perceive conflict and avoidance? My attempt was to contribute to a more holistic understanding of the perceptions of African Americans of the devaluation, alienation, and conflict and avoidance in their organizational lives. The results suggested that the African American students perceived that they were devalued in the classroom, felt alienated from the center of campus life, experienced conflict between their viewpoints and that of a few faculty members, and perceived that faculty members avoided them. Finally, I suggested that further investigation is needed into the perceptions and the actuality of African American students' academic experiences in predominantly white institutions of higher learning. ^

Degree

Ph.D.

Advisors

Major Professor: Ralph Webb, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Black Studies|Speech Communication|Education, Higher

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