The academic engagement of first-year, Black male students attending four-year institutions of higher learning
Ricks, Rhonda A.
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The student populations in colleges and universities in the United States have become more diverse in the students that they serve. It has been argued that disaggregation of student data would allow researchers to test the saliency of student development models. However, there is only a small body of research available on first-year Black male students, particularly data related to student engagement. This study, focusing on first-year Black male students, explored the relationship between student engagement in educationally purposeful activities and GPA. In addition, it explored whether there were differences in engagement practices by parental education, major field of study, on or off campus employment, or the type of four-year institution attended. This study further explored whether the quality of the educational experience was predictive of the GPA for first-year Black male students. A national sample of 1200 first-year Black male students who participated in the web version of National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) was obtained from the Indiana Center for Postsecondary Research. Ex-post facto correlational design was employed. True to its correlational design, the research employed descriptive statistics and a a general linear model inclusive of MANOVA, followed by univariate analysis of variance, and post hoc and regression analysis. Several important findings emerged from this study. First, student engagement in four of the five benchmarks that include Level of Academic Challenge (LAC), Active and Collaborative Learning (ACL), Student-Faculty Interaction (SFI), and Enriching Educational Experiences (EEE) were not found to be strongly associated with the GPA of first-year Black male students. Second, differences were determined by parental educational level, hours worked on-and off-campus, type of institution attended, and major field of study for four of the five benchmarks. Third, a relationship with faculty members was found to be an important predictor of GPA. However, the variables were not strong predictors of GPA. In addition, relationships with administration and personnel were found to have a negative effect on the GPA of students who attended public 4-year institutions and Master's Colleges and Universities (larger programs) as opposed to those who attend private institutions. The implications of this study are discussed, focusing on first-year Black male student engagement activities, and directions for future research. In sum, this study contributes to the limited amount of literature addressing Black-male student engagement, specifically focusing on first-year Black male students.