Guests at an ivory tower: The challenges Black students experience while attending a predominantly White university

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Reading and Language Arts


Susan Hynds


Study skills, Social transition, Academic transition, Black students, Predominantly White, University

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Educational Sociology | Higher Education and Teaching


The purpose of this year-long study was to explore how a group of Black students, who took a study skills course, perceived the academic and social experiences encountered at a large, private predominantly White institution freshman year and beyond. In addition, the research focused on these students' high school experiences. The study also concentrated on whether or not study skills courses assisted in their academic and social integration.

Data collection included in-depth, audio-taped interviews with the researcher's former students. The interviews occurred in two phases. The first phase focused on the students' background, high school experiences, and academic and social experiences freshman year. The second phase of interviews pertained to the students' academic and social experiences after completing a study skills course.

Analytic induction (Bogdan & Bkilen, 1992) and Vincent Tinto's (1993) theory of student departure were used for analyzing the data in this qualitative study. Although Tinto's theory illustrated three stages: separation, transition, and incorporation, the researcher saw that other themes emerged within this framework.

Findings indicated that the students had difficulties making a complete academic and social transition into the university freshman year and beyond. Moreover, the findings showed that after taking a study skins course, students continued using their previous learning strategies, or they used the learning strategies from the study skills courses incorrectly. These findings suggest that the students' social experiences impinged upon their academic experiences. In addition, these findings point out that study skills courses may not be enough to assist in the academic and social integration. Implications for future research are recommended.


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