Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Black students at a predominantly White institution (PWI) were assessed regarding their attitudes toward their experiences at a Midwestern research university. Questionnaires were sent to all enrolled students who indicated that their racial background was Black. A return rate of 44% (42 respondents) was received. Over 75% of the respondents were male, reflecting the predominant number of males among Black students at this PWI.

The students were divided into two groups, voluntary minority status Blacks and involuntary minority status Blacks (those from the adjoining two states of North Dakota and Minnesota). The voluntary minority status Blacks generally were more positive about the PWI than were the involuntary minority status Blacks.

There were no significant differences between the males and females on any of the 38 Likert-type items specifically written for this study. Black students generally saw themselves as being treated fairly, neither being advantaged nor disadvantaged because of their race. The fairness of treatment was seen as a very positive characteristic of this PWI. On the other hand, there were few Black faculty; and the faculty were perceived as awkward in relating to Black students. Black students felt that it would be helpful to design and implement programs to sensitize administrators, faculty, staff, and students to racial issues and concerns.

Several themes were discerned from the Black students’ responses to the open-ended questions. The first theme identified was that Black students saw diversity as serving both White and Black students. A second theme was that individual Black students perceived the need to be in control of their own destiny. The third theme was that Black students perceived Whites at this PWI lacking simple ways of interacting with Blacks. A fourth theme was that Black students learned new ways of being in this PWI, including what it means to be in a small minority group.

It was concluded that diversity benefits this PWI, majority White students, and other minorities. The Black students see themselves as being helpful to this Midwestern PWI. In addition, they see this PWI as being neither solicitous to them, nor discriminating against them.