Academic Supports Preferred by Academically Struggling African American Students at a Predominantly White University
Academic supports offered by Predominately White Institutions (PWIs) meet the needs of individuals who achieve standards such as high grade point averages and high standardized test scores, and who can negotiate traditional college institutions. Evidence indicates that retention and graduation rates for underrepresented minority students may be lower in comparison to White peers at the same institutions. Observations indicated that academic supports offered by a Midwestern PWI, may not provide the services preferred by African American students who struggle academically in two colleges, the College of Education and the College of Nursing.
A mixed-methods design was used to determine what academic supports were known and being used by academically struggling African American students at a PWI. Survey questions and interviews focused on gaining understandings of student preferences for academic supports in a population of academically struggling African American students.
These results may be used to design academic supports for struggling African American students and may be generalized to PWIs of similar demographics and socio-cultural settings. Application of the results to academic support design may improve retention and graduation rates for this student group. Students requested increased interaction with faculty, late night or 24-hour tutoring services, assistance with time management, more social media to assist with reminders about assignments and class projects, and assistance with technology and online classes. Some differences were noted between what was recorded in the literature and the results of this study in the areas of study groups, same ethnicity faculty, group membership and mentoring.