2015 - October

Male Identity and Academic Engagement: Case Studies of Black Male Collegians at an Urban University


Dissertation Director: Sherri-Ann Butterfield, Ph.D.


There are numerous theoretical and empirical studies that discuss variables that affect academic outcomes for Black males in higher education. However, few studies specifically investigates the influences of race and gender on academic engagement in post-secondary education settings. This qualitative study utilized semi-structured interviews to explore the influence of male identity on academic engagement amongst Black males in an urban university. Semi-structured interviews of secondary participants (family, peers, university affiliate and mentor) for each primary participant (Black male collegian) were used to obtain a more comprehensive composite of the ways in which the collegians construct their male identity. Exploring the constructed identities of five Black male collegians at an urban university in the Northeast, this dissertation study sought to answer the following primary and secondary research questions: In what ways, does male identity of Black male collegians influence their academic engagement? and How is Black male identity constructed and operationalized among matriculated undergraduate students? Several findings emanate from this study; however, the following two are paramount. Respondents in this study, frequently, oscillate between competing identities. The collegians repeatedly choose between identities that promote academic commitment and those that do not; often resulting in diminished engagement. Secondarily, levels of academic engagement are linked to self-image prior to matriculation; as well as positive guidance and mentorship once matriculated. Findings suggest, that in order to increase the rates of engagement among Black collegians there needs to be a greater number of faculty and administrators who serve as mentors and advisors. tracting private capital to development of light rail.

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