Black/white biracial identity and the pursuit of higher education
Chilungu, Elizabeth Namisi
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Biracial identity development, specifically Black/White identity, is an increasingly studied area of research. Given the growing interest in biracial identity, and the existing literature on race and education, researchers and educators should discuss biracial students' experiences in school. Specifically, differences exist in the number of students enrolled in college from varying racial and ethnic groups. In particular, a disproportionately smaller percentage of African-Americans attend college than their White peers (Perna, 2000). The purpose of this study was to examine the following questions: (a) What differences exist in the factors influencing the pursuit of higher education among Black, White, and biracial students? (b) Is there a relationship between biracial college students' identity choices and the factors that influence their pursuit of higher education? Specifically, do differences in influential factors exist among students who identify as biracial? A mixed-method approach was taken, employing both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis. All participants (n=107) completed two surveys: a Survey of Racial Experiences (Rockquemore & Brunsma, 2002) and Factors Influencing the Pursuit of Higher Education (FIPHE) (Harris & Halpin, 1998). Additionally, follow up interviews were conducted with seven Black/White biracial college students. Multivariate and univariate analyses of variance revealed significant differences among the three racial groups (Black, White, and biracial) on measures of father's influence as it relates to pursuit of college, and financial aid concerns. Additionally, several significant relationships were found between biracial students' responses on the Survey of Racial Experiences and the FIPHE questionnaire. Significant areas included family, school, and socioeconomic/financial aid concerns. Several themes emerged from the interview data that are broadly included in the following categories: aspects of school experience and aspects of biracial identity development.