Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > A Narrative Inquiry into The Experiences of High Achieving Black Males at a Prominent Predominantly White Institution in The South

Black males have the highest college attrition rates of all races and genders (Harper, 2006a). Federal reports indicate that 54.4% of White males finish their college degrees, compared with 33.1% of Black males (U.S. Department of Education, 2012). The 21.3 percentage point disparity leads many to believe that Black male students may need special attention in order to close the gap. Vincent Tinto is the most prolific, and possibly most respected, of the theory-based attrition and retention researchers, but his model (1975) has been criticized for not addressing the experiences of minority, and other non-middle class, students. Tinto’s theory has maintained its credibility over two decades, but the experiences of marginalized students, specifically Black males, are an essential part of the college attrition puzzle, and their voices have been largely absent from the research to date. In an effort to add to and enhance research on the attrition and retention of Black male students at PWIs, this study extends Tinto’s (1975, 2000) retention theory through an exploration of the experiences of five high achieving Black males at a prominent PWI in the South. By utilizing qualitative methodology to present students’ perspectives on their collegiate experiences, this study advances our understanding of the retention theory. This qualitative study utilized individual, semi-structured interviews framed by a narrative inquiry to answer two primary research questions. First, what are the factors which contributed to the retention of black males who have successfully obtained a baccalaureate degree from a prominent predominately white institution? Second, what are the factors which contributed to the academic success (above a 3.0 gpa) of Black males from a prominent predominately white institution? The results of analysis of the narratives describe the thematic structure of five Black males’ experience of persistence and completing their baccalaureate degrees between 2013 and 2015. The data analysis yielded six themes which contributed to the retention and success of five high achieving black male graduates. The six themes included; a) the importance of high impact practices, b) the black male academic identity, c) self-motivation, d) pre-college exposure, e) familiarity with White educational spaces, and f) competition. The findings of this study should serve as a starting point for the formation of any programs or practices designed to increase Black male student graduation rates at predominantly White colleges.