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Students' perceptions of classroom factors that impact success for African-American students in higher education settings

, Northern Illinois University, United States

Northern Illinois University . Awarded


Classrooms in higher education are becoming increasingly diverse yet the current pedagogical practices that exist are not creating an optimal learning environment for African American students. The literature indicates that classroom instruction tends to be based on an analytic learning style as opposed to the holistic style preference associated with African American students. Sometimes this conflict between teaching style and learning style preference can possibly lead to student attrition.

The purpose of this study was to explore African American students' perceptions of the current classroom environment in order to identify strategies that meet their learning needs. This qualitative study was conducted at a small, private four-year baccalaureate institution. Using semistructured interviews, students were asked to identify factors and instructional strategies that were the most beneficial to learning.

The literature review explored research associated with cognitive style, student development theory, and success for students of color. Few studies were found that investigated effective teaching strategies for college-level African American students. This was especially true concerning research that considered student perceptions.

The three themes that emerged after data analysis were faculty-student relationships, instructional design issues, and perceptual barriers. The idea that permeated all of the themes was the importance of the social interactions between faculty and students. Students felt that positive relationships with faculty helped create an optimal learning environment.

The development of culturally relevant pedagogy can be enhanced through research that identifies appropriate teaching practices and also explores the successful application of these practices. The pragmatic nature of this research would hopefully promote a more equitable learning environment.


Baker, P. Students' perceptions of classroom factors that impact success for African-American students in higher education settings. Ph.D. thesis, Northern Illinois University. Retrieved October 22, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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