Campus Racial Climate and the Adjustment of Students to College/ Cabrera et. al.1999

מאמר קלאסי המשווה בין הסתגלות של סטודנטים אפרו אמריקאים והסתגלותם של סטודנטים לבנים למוסד האקדמי. המחקר מאפשר להבין את ההבדלים בין הקבוצות על רקע משתנים מגוונים שנמדדו.

Cabrera, A. F., Nora, A., Terenzini, P. T., Pascarella, E., & Hagedorn, L. S. (1999). Campus racial climate and the adjustment of students to college: A comparison between White students and African-American students. Journal of Higher Education, 134-160.


 A Comparison Between White Students and African-American

Students Benefits associated with a college degree are multiple. From a societal standpoint, a college graduate is far less likely to commit a crime and approximately 30% less likely to be unemployed compared to a student who has simply earned a high-school diploma (Hossler, Braxton, & Coopersmith, 1989; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991).
From an individual perspective, each additional year of schooling past high school seems to prolong life by 0.4%, or nearly 2 percentage points, upon graduation from college (Hossler, Braxton, & Coopersmith,1989). Moreover, earning a college degree is known to produce greater gains in occupational prestige (e.g., Lin & Vogt, 1996) and economic returns (e.g., Leslie & Brinkman, 1986) as compared to simply attaining a high-school diploma.

This study examined four important contentions related to the adjustment of African American and White students to college. The first widely held notion is that academic preparedness at the time of highschool graduation is a key factor accounting for differences in persistence behavior between African American and White students (Tinto,
1987, 1993). A second fallacy is that a successful adjustment to college by all students involves severing ties with family and past communities(Tinto, 1987). The third is that minorities and historically discriminated groups, targets of racism and bigotry, are the only ones susceptible to discriminatory perceptions on campus and that college academic performance and even persistence decisions for these groups are shaped primarily by exposure to a climate of discrimination. The final contention is that current models of the adjustment of students to college fail to capture fully minority collegiate experiences (Tierney, 1992). No support was found for the claim that academic unpreparedness explains why African Americans are less prone to persist than Whites. In reality, though African American students reported that they had less prior preparation for college than their White counterparts, prior ability
exerted at most an indirect effect on their decisions to persist. Save differences in magnitude, factors affecting African American students were largely similar to those affecting White students' decisions to persist. Disengagement with family, friends, and past communities is not a precondition for the successful adjustment to college; the reverse appears to be more truthful. For both African American and White students
parental encouragement and support facilitated the transition into the academic and social realms of the institution, enhanced commitments to both the goal of college completion and to the institution, and increased the likelihood to persist in college. It should be stressed how important a role encouragement and support from family play in the persistence behavior of African Americans, for whom encouragement outweighed the effect of college academic performance, a factor that the extant literature underlines as the main determinant of persistence decisions for this
group (Tinto, 1993). Perceptions that prejudice and discrimination exist in the classroomand on campus are not unique to African Americans. Both groups were equally likely to perceive a campus climate of prejudice and discrimination. Furthermore, exposure to this type of campus climate impinges on college-related outcomes regardless of the ethnicity of the student. With two notable contrasts, in that perceptions of prejudice affect goal commitments. only among Whites and social experiences only among African Americans, the pattern of the effects is remarkably similar for both groups. What distinguishes one group from the other is the intensity
of the effect and the role that perceptions of discrimination play on commitments to the institution. Whereas perceptions of prejudice and discrimination have the second largest direct effect on Whites' institutional commitment, exposure to a prejudiced campus climate clearly dominates African Americans' commitments to the institution.
African Americans' cognitive outcomes and persistence decisions are not primarily shaped by perceptions of discrimination and prejudice. For African Americans, gains in quantitative skills, analytical thinking, and
appreciation of fine arts are dependent upon positive interactions with faculty, beneficial experiences with students, and prior academic ability.
Their college academic performance is shaped primarily by prior academic ability, whereas persistence decisions are dominated by factors other than perceptions of discrimination and prejudice. In short, predictors of White students' cognitive and persistence outcomes are basically Campus Racial Climate the same as African Americans', a finding that is consistent with those few studies that examine differences in the adjustment process between
minorities and non-minorities (Eimers & Pike, 1997; Cabrera & Nora,1994; Nettles et al., 1986; Nora & Cabrera, 1996a).
The assertion that current conceptual models of college persistence are inappropriate for explaining persistence decisions among minorities (Tierney, 1992) was not supported. Significant variation on several African Americans' college-related outcomes was explained by themodel (see Tables 2 through 5); furthermore, the model explained more variation on persistence decisions among African Americans than it did among Whites (56% vs 39%). Over fifty percent of the hypothesized interrelations among the variables for African Americans were also validated.

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