The purpose of this correlational research study was to examine the student engagement variables most likely to predict the academic success and satisfaction of African American male college students. Research suggests that African American males who are actively engaged in campus life gain more from the college experience and are more likely to succeed academically (Harper, 2012; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005; Strayhorn, 2008b). This investigation used the National Survey of Student Engagement questionnaire to survey 3,000 students to learn what relationships existed between five student engagement variables and the students’ perceived satisfaction with their overall college experience.
There is a plethora of research that has examined the college experiences, engagement and academic success of minority students in totality (Fleming, 1984; Outcalt & Skewes-Cox, 2002; Strayhorn & DeVita, 2010; Watson & Kuh, 1996; Watson, Terrell, Wright, Bonner, Cuyjet, & Gold, 2002); however limited research exists specifically targeting the correlation between engagement factors and the academic success and college satisfaction of African American males (Greene, 2005; Harvey-Smith, 2002; Kimbrough & Harper, 2006; Outcalt & Skewes-Cox, 2002; Palmer, Davis, & Maramba, 2010).
Utilizing a conceptual theory of student involvement based on the work of Astin (1984, 1999) this investigation employed multiple regression analysis to explore the relationship between five student engagement factors (Academic Challenge, Collaborative Learning, Faculty Interaction, Supportive Campus, and Enriching Experiences) and African American males’ academic success and overall satisfaction with their college experience.
Four research questions directed this study relative to the student engagement factors and institutional characteristics that best predict African American male satisfaction with their college experience. The results indicated that three variables significantly predicted the overall college satisfaction of African American males; Supportive Campus, Faculty Interaction, and Academic Challenge. Additionally, African American males attending private institutions reported a significantly higher mean score relative to their overall satisfaction with their college experience than those attending a public college or university, while no significance was found between African American males attending an historically Black institution as opposed to a predominately white institution.
Conclusions drawn from the study lead to further questions surrounding how student engagement is defined and perceived by African American college students and higher education institutions. Further the study draws attention to the need to address and incorporate academic and co-curricular initiatives, services and policies in culture of higher education institutions that will enhance the college experience and ensure academic success, retention and matriculation of African American males.