The in-class and out-of-class experiences of African American undergraduates at a predominantly white midwestern university : a phenomenological investigation

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Chisholm, Mervin E.
Mulvihill, Thalia M., 1963-
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
Department of Educational Studies
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The purpose of this phenomenological research study was to investigate the in-class and out-of-class experiences of undergraduate African American traditional-aged college students who were on a "success" path at a predominantly White campus in the Midwestern USA. It provided the opportunity for the voices of the participants to be heard. Purposive and snowball sampling were used to identify thirteen research participants. A semi-structured interview format enabling conversational interview was used.Findings suggested that the students' experiences were multifaceted and multilayered. They had to contend with racial microaggressions and verbal abuse. This called on their resilience occasioning the expending of psychic energy and extending of the self to cope. The experience of racism clearly suggested that the educational environment was not totally welcoming and supportive of African Americans as, These experiences consisted of discrimination, stereotyping, verbal assaults, and treatment that suggested that the African Americans had major deficits as persons. In the second place, the students described experiences in which they defied the odds. Hence surviving and thriving became an apt metaphor that captured the contours of the experience. Respondents described the importance of investing in the Black community, utilizing the networking opportunities, fellowshipping with friends, family and faculty, and developing disciplined approaches to life as important in the quest to survive and to thrive. In the third place, they also described college as a place where their lives were sculpted, and where they were sculpted for life. This theme was expanded through descriptions depicting college as a place that allowed for the defining, refining, and redefining of the self. They also encountered and came to value diversity, benefited from immersive learning and were challenged to balance and to learn to manage their lives as efficient stewards.The finding that elevated the use of Black community organizations and networking opportunities as counter and recuperative spaces and particularly the importance of body pedagogy in those spaces has value for ongoing research. Further, in negotiating college students had to balance their lives, employing folk wisdom or practical intelligences developed from their socialization in their families and the Black community.