Culturally Responsive College Student Retention Theory & Practice

Terron Jermain Phillips, Purdue University


The three studies included in this dissertation collectively aim to highlight the negative impact that culturally homogenous academic, social, and financial systems on college campuses have on the experiences of culturally diverse college students. Currently the academic, social, and financial experiences of college students are not structured to support culturally diverse student groups, thus inhibiting their development of a sense of belonging and contributing to the low retention rates of culturally diverse students. The first study, “Examining Individualism in College Student Retention Theory and Practice: A Transition from Student Integration to Institutional Adjustment,” is a meta synthesis that explains that contemporary retention theories and practices are based on antiquated retention theories and are inadequate in addressing the needs of culturally diverse college student populations. The second study, “Financial Literacy Programming in American Higher Education: What’s There and What’s Missing,” is a qualitative study that addressed the research gap regarding financial literacy and wellness by more clearly defining the financial experiences and interactions that college students have within the financial systems of college. As a follow-up to the second study, the third study, “Values and Value: A Qualitative Study on Culturally Responsive Financial Literacy Programming,” examines more closely the content of financial literacy programs in higher education to identify ways that financial literacy programming on college campuses is responsive to students’ cultural identities. The findings of the included studies collectively inform foundational principles of a culturally responsive retention theory through which the college environment can be examined and potentially transformed to be more inclusive in access and support for culturally diverse students.




Kiracofe, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Multicultural Education|Higher education

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