Low rates of college persistence for African American males are a major source of educational inequality. While their rates of enrolling in college have risen, completion rates among these students have continued to lag, and the gap between Whites and Blacks has grown. Richburg-Hayes and colleagues are examining a one- to two-year program at the University of Georgia to improve persistence for African American males via academic and student support services, adult and peer mentoring, and leadership development. With funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, the team will conduct a large-scale randomized trial to assess the impact of the African American Male Initiative (AAMI) program on grade point average, credits earned, and degree completion or transfer for three cohorts. With funding from the Foundation, the team will examine why and how the program does or does not work by examining students’ experiences. The team will administer a survey to each of the three cohorts, near the end of the students’ first year in the program. The survey will be administered to AAMI participants and students who met the program’s eligibility criteria but were not assigned to participate. The survey will measure students’ interactions with academic advising or tutoring, as well as their social relationships and the ways they perceive their own ability to achieve goals. The team will examine whether there are differences in outcomes between the AAMI and comparison students and whether the program drives those differences. Separate focus groups will be held with AAMI participants and comparison students to explore their experiences with services and their views of the role of academic self-efficacy, positive peer and adult relationships, and sense of belonging, as well as the influence of their social networks on their college careers.
How can colleges improve services and outcomes for African American male students?