The attrition of doctoral students in U.S. higher education, especially those who are underrepresented, is an understudied problem. This study examines how underrepresented minority doctoral students experience belonging at a predominantly White institution in the Midwest to identify factors that lead to attrition. The study used a mixed methods approach to examine students’ experiences of sense of belonging via a survey and semi-structured interviews. Findings from a regression analysis indicate that underrepresented students score lower in measures of sense of belonging as compared to White students. The interview data suggest that students of color frequently experience microaggressions and a racialized campus climate. Furthermore, students of color internalize these experiences to the detriment of their psychological and emotional well-being. Interview data also suggest that students who build a strong sense of community in their academic discipline have a stronger overall sense of belonging.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. November 2017. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisors: Rebecca Ropers-Huilman, Peter Demerath. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 157 pages.
Everyday Oppression: The Challenges of Belonging for Underrepresented Doctoral Students at a Predominantly White Institution.
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