Tiapo, Bernadette; Ph.D.
Program of Education
College of Human Development and Education; North Dakota State University
Assessing Minority Students’ Perceptions and Attrition at a Predominantly White Institution
Major Professor: Dr. Myron Eighmy
The enrollment, retention, persistence, and overall college experience of minority students are topical issues in colleges and universities, and even more so in predominantly White institutions (PWIs) where minority students encounter difficulties adjusting to the campus environment (Bennett & Okinaka, 1989; Jay & D’Augelli, 1991).
This study analyzed historic enrollment/drop-out data to investigate changes in minority students’ attrition patterns, as well as the sensitivity to demographic characteristics, at a PWI that has conducted campus climate (CC) studies and progressively implemented survey recommendations (CCSRs). Data from an on-line survey, and information from focus group interviews, were also used to analyze students’ perception of CC at the PWI, and the sensitivity of perceptions to students’ demographic characteristics.
There was no significant impact on minority students’ overall attrition pattern following the implementation of CCSRs at the PWI; however, male minority students were more likely, than their female peers, not to attrite following CCSRs implementation. Although minority students were generally aware and appreciative of efforts to enhance CC at the PWI, their perceptions were strongly unfavorable with regard to the level of diversity at the PWI, the level of inclusion in decision making, and the services provided by Residence Life and Housing. Overall, minority students’ gender and class were found to be critical variables in their perception of CC-related issues, with implications in the design of CC-related efforts at the PWI as well as for further studies. The findings underscore the importance for PWIs to match commitments with actions on CC-related issues.