A Comparative Examination of Student Satisfaction by Ethnicity at Historically Black and Predominately White Land-Grant Institutions
Rector, Vonetta Y.
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State systems have begun to implement performance-based policies in higher education that obligate state institutions to demonstrate they are providing quality educational experiences for students in an effective and efficient manner (Hatcher, Kryter, Prus, & Fitzgerald, 1992; Redd, 1998). Quality and overall effectiveness are measured by student outcomes, such as student retention, attrition, and graduation rates (Hatcher, et al., 1992; Redd, 1998). College student satisfaction has emerged as a factor that affects student retention, attrition and graduation rates (Aitken, 1982; Allen, 1987; Hatcher, et al., 1992; Love, 1993). The greater the level of satisfaction with the college environment, the greater the likelihood that the student will remain affiliated with the institution. This is seen at predominately White institutions (PWIs). Many have found that African American students are less satisfied than their White counterparts with the college environment, and have attrition rates five to eight times higher than their White counterparts at the same institution (Allen, 1987; Fisher & Hartmann, 1991; Love, 1993; Suen, 198). Approximately 80 percent of all African American undergraduates are enrolled in PWIs (Arenson, 1997). Research also indicates that African American students attending historically Black institutions (HBIs) seem to be more satisfied with the college environment than their African American counterparts at PWIs, and graduate at rates equal to White students at PWIs (Allen, 1987; Bohr, Pascarella, Nora, & Terenzini, 1995; Love, 1993; Nettles, et al., 1986; Suen, 1983). Despite these satisfaction and success rates, by 1994, total African American student enrollments at HBIs decreased to an all-time low: 16 percent (Redd, 1998; Schexnider, 1998). Contrary to African American student enrollments, White student enrollments at HBIs have increased 71 percent from 1976 to 1994 (Redd, 1998; Wenglinsky, 1996). Because these students represent non-majorities on HBI campuses, it would be interesting to see if the pattern of satisfaction for African American students attending PWIs hold true for White students at HBIs. The present study, by examining the satisfaction levels of both groups of students with the college environment, is designed to address this gap in the existing body of literature on African Americans and Whites at PWIs and HBIs. Data related to levels of student satisfaction with the college environment were obtained from the College Environment scale of the Student Opinion Survey (SOS). Chi-squares were calculated on each item of the College Environment scale to determine significance. The study made within group comparisons (AA-HBI v. AA-PWI; W-PWI v. W-HBI) and between group comparisons (AA-PWI v. W-PWI; AA-HBI v. W-HBI) based on majority and non-majority statuses on respective campuses. Results of the study revealed that, when respecting the non-majority on campus, African American and White students are seemingly more satisfied (or equally satisfied) with aspects of the college environment than their majority students counterparts on campus. Additionally, these non-majority groups were more satisfied (or equally satisfied) with dimensions of the college environment than their ethnic counterparts on PWI and HBI campuses (AA-HBI and W-PWI students). W-HBI students demonstrated greater levels of satisfaction than all other groups included in the study.
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