• Understanding Black Undergraduate Females' Sense of Belonging at a Predominantly White Institution

      Davis, James Earl, 1960-; Schifter, Catherine; Witham, Keith; Brooks, Wanda M., 1969- (Temple University. Libraries, 2017)
      As college and university continue to recruit and enroll more diverse student populations and maintain institutional priorities of diversity and inclusion, it is imperative we understand the distinct experiences of our minority populations. This research will specifically focus on the experiences of Black undergraduate females. To ensure the success of our Black females students, it is imperative we understand their need for a sense of belonging on a predominantly White campus in order to achieve higher-level opportunities of classroom and campus success. Sense of belonging is defined as the ability to connect, feel validated, accepted, and matter. This understanding is key to Black undergraduate females’ ability to successfully integrate academically and socially in their college environment. Existing research provides insight into the Black male experience, not limited to the challenges Black males face, as well as variables needed to enable Black males’ educational success. However, there is a general lack of awareness and attention to the nuanced experiences of our Black female students on predominantly White campuses. What challenges do Black females face and what factors can enable their educational success? This missed opportunity of understanding of their experiences limits faculty, staff, and administrators from creating an environment where Black females can succeed both inside and outside the classroom. This research gives voice to the experiences of this seemingly silent minority and challenges campus environments to address their operating norm of campus rituals and culture. The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine the experiences of nine Black undergraduate females at one predominantly White urban institution located in the North East. Through the use semi-structured interviews, this study seeks to understand in what ways Black female students’ understanding of self, relationship development, and engagement with their campus environment aids in the creation of their sense of belonging to their institution. Findings from this study demonstrate key components of belonging are rooted in understanding of self, and self in relation to others; the impact of participating in institutional programs; and the ability to navigate rules of engagement, both in the classroom and social environments. Participants demonstrate varying levels of belonging but provide key insight for higher education administrators to reflect upon their institutional programs, services, and opportunities to provide intentional space and place of support and ultimately find a place where they matter; their place of belonging.