DESCRIBING AND MAPPING THE SOURCES OF COLLEGE IMPACT ON
THE IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT OF AFRICAN AMERICAN COLLEGE
STUDENTS ATTENDING A PREDOMINANTLY WHITE INSTITUTION
Merrill L. Irving Jr.
A Dissertation Presented to the
FACULTY OF THE ROSSIER SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
In Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree
DOCTOR OF EDUCATION
Copyright 2007 Merrill L. Irving Jr.
In a two-phase, mixed methods study 100 African American undergraduates completed a critical incident form, describing experiences they perceived to have been most influential on their sense of self. Three raters assigned these incidents to 14 categories. Fifteen of the original participants then rated the degree of similarity of each possible between -- category comparison. Those similarity data then were analyzed using Multi-Dimensional Scaling (constraining the results to two dimensions) and Hierarchical Cluster Analysis. The later resulted in a four cluster solution. The results of the two analyses were overlaid in a graphic representation of how African American undergraduates conceptually organize their understanding of the impact of college on their identity development.; The two dimensions were named "Learning through autonomy living independently vs. Learning from interactions/acts of others" and "Being empowered by mentorship vs. overcoming acts of prejudice or discrimination." The four clusters were named Confronting Challenging Circumstances, Being affected through interactions with others, Being affected success in the school environment, and Being forced to define myself as an independent person. In conclusion, suggestions for future research and implications for practitioners at Predominantly White Institutions ("PWI") are also provided.