Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-20-2019


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Professional Doctorate in Educational Leadership (ProDEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Darius Prier

Committee Member

Dr. Gretchen Givens Generett

Committee Member

Dr. Chris Meidl


Race, Sense of Belonging, Diversity and Inclusion, Critical Race Theory, Microaggressions, Student Support, Identity


This research study utilized a critical race theoretical framework and methodology to explore the lived experiences of African American students at a predominantly White institution. The purpose of this study was to identify how race impacts the sense of belonging of African American students at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). This study highlighted the racialized experiences of African American students at a predominantly White institution and how these experiences impacted their sense of belonging. Additionally, this study sought to understand the type of support African Americans students preferred and needed in order to develop a positive sense of belonging.

Six African American undergraduate students from Citytown University (pseudonym) were selected to participate in this study using criterion sampling (Patton, 2002). Data was gathered using semi-structured interviews and analyzed through interpretative and descriptive coding (Bazeley, 2013). Primary findings suggest that 1. The select group of African American students interviewed feel isolated or alone at their PWI, 2. Racialized experiences can negatively impact African American students’ sense of belonging, and 3. Intentional and culturally relevant support from faculty, staff, and administrators engender a positive experience and sense of belonging for African American students.