Ethnic identity, self-concept, and academic achievement of first-year Black college students

Cooley, Michéle Renée., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Lee, Courtland, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Anderson, William, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Cornell, Dewey, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Gansneder, Bruce, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Wilson, Melvin, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

Research has shown that self-concept is related to ethnic identity in minority youth. Ethnic identity has been newly hypothesized as a factor that is related to academic achievement. This study empirically investigated the relationship between ethnic identity, self-concept, and academic achievement in Black students who attend a predominantly White university. The subjects were seventy-five Black first-year college students in a predominantly White university. Using simple path analysis, socioeconomic status and academic aptitude were examined as control factors. Ethnic identity was investigated as potentially influencing four domains of self-concept (i.e., global, academic, social, physical appearance) and academic achievement. Additionally, the domains of self-concept were examined as potentially influencing ethnic identity and academic achievement.

Results indicated that there was a negative direct effect of socioeconomic status on the students' academic aptitudes. Thus, the higher Black college students' socioeconomic status, the lower their academic aptitude scores. However, socioeconomic status significantly positively influenced students' academic achievement, such that students with higher socioeconomic status backgrounds produced higher grade-point averages. Ethnic identity positively influenced self-concept. Furthermore, the different domains of self-concept iv significantly influenced ethnic identity. Generally, then, a bidirectional relationship was suggested; stronger ethnic identities contributed to higher self-concepts, and higher self-concepts contributed to stronger ethnic identities. Finally, ethnic identity was found to have a significant positive influence on academic achievement, once the influences of socioeconomic status and academic aptitude had been removed. Thus, the stronger, more developed the ethnic identities of the Black students were, the higher their academic achievement. surprisingly, none of the domains of self-concept was found to significantly influence the academic achievement of the Black college students. Also unexpectedly, academic aptitude did not have a significant effect on the academic achievement of the Black students.

Implications for the enhancement of academic achievement of Black college students in predominantly White colleges are given. The recommendations are related to college admissions criteria, culturally-relevant support services and curricula, and suggestions for further research.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
University of Virginia -- Students -- Attitudes, African American college students -- Virginia -- Charlottesville -- Attitudes, African Americans -- Virginia -- Charlottesville -- Race identity, African American college students -- Attitudes, African Americans -- Race identity, Ethnicity -- Virginia -- Charlottesville, Self-perception
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