Title

Racial identity attitudes of African American students and student developmental tasks: An exploratory investigation

Date of Award

1994

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Higher Education

Advisor(s)

Alan Goldberg

Keywords

Racial identity, student developmental tasks

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education

Abstract

This study sought to examine the relationship between racial identity attitudes and the mastery of developmental tasks of African-American students at predominantly White colleges.

The research hypotheses were as follows: (H1) African-American students at predominantly white colleges with Pre-encounter stage attitudes will be less likely to report mastery of the developmental tasks of Clarifying Purpose, Mature Interpersonal Relationships, Academic Autonomy and Salubrious Lifestyle. (H2) African-American students at predominantly white colleges with Encounter and Internalization stage attitudes will be more likely to report the mastery of the developmental tasks of Clarifying Purpose, Mature Interpersonal Relationships, Academic Autonomy and Salubrious Lifestyle. (H3) African-American students at predominantly white colleges with Immersion stage attitudes will be less likely to report mastery of developmental tasks of Clarifying Purpose, Mature Interpersonal Relationships, Academic Autonomy and Salubrious Lifestyle.

The author used two theoretical models: the Theory Racial Identity Development, Cross (1971) and Chickering's (1969) Theory of Psychosocial Development. To operationalize both theories, the Racial Identity Attitudes Scale, Parham and Helms (1981) was used to measure racial identity attitudes and the Student Developmental Task and Lifestyle Inventory was used to measure student development (Winston, Miller, and Prince, 1987). The sample consisted of 119 African-American college students who were members of the Black Student unions at three predominantly White public colleges.

Hierarchical multiple regression was used to determine the relationship between personal background characteristics, the racial identity attitudes and student developmental tasks.

Pre-encounter (anti-Black) and Immersion (pro-Black) stage attitudes were less likely to report the mastery of the tasks associated with mature interpersonal relationships. Students with Encounter (pro-Black) stage attitudes were more likely to report the mastery of the Establishing and Clarifying Purpose task and Salubrious Lifestyle.

Personal background characteristics showed the strongest effects. For Mature Interpersonal Relationships tasks, the strongest effects were class level and gender. Females were more likely to report the mastery of the Mature Interpersonal Relationships task. Four effects were stronger when Salubrious Lifestyle was examined. These were gender (males were likely to report the mastery of the Salubrious Lifestyle task while in college), income level, the percentage of Blacks in one's high school at the time of graduation, and the predominant race of teachers at the time of graduation.

The findings of this study have implications for student affairs professionals such as counselors and residence life staff.

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