A Test of Leading Explanations for the College Racial-Ethnic Achievement Gap

Evidence from a Longitudinal Case Study

Nathan Martin, Kenneth I. Spenner, Sarah A. Mustillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

In this study, we examined racial/ethnic differences in grade point average (GPA) among students at a highly selective, private university who were surveyed before matriculation and during the first, second and fourth college years, and assessed prominent explanations for the Black-White and Latino-White college achievement gap. We found that roughly half of the observed gap was attributable to family background characteristics and pre-college academic preparation. Of the within-college factors we considered, perceptions of campus climate and selection of major field of study were most important in explaining racial/ethnic differences in GPA. Personal resources, such as academic effort, self-esteem and academic identification, and patterns of involvement in campus life were significantly associated with GPA, but these factors did not account for racial/ethnic differences in academic performance. Overall, our results suggest that efforts to reduce the college achievement gap should focus on assisting students with the process of selecting major fields of study and on fostering a welcoming and inclusive campus environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalResearch in Higher Education
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Sep 20 2016

Fingerprint

evidence
field of study
private university
self-esteem
student
climate
resources
performance

Keywords

  • Campus climate
  • Elite education
  • Racial/ethnic inequality
  • Student involvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

Cite this

A Test of Leading Explanations for the College Racial-Ethnic Achievement Gap : Evidence from a Longitudinal Case Study. / Martin, Nathan; Spenner, Kenneth I.; Mustillo, Sarah A.

In: Research in Higher Education, 20.09.2016, p. 1-29.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{fb0bf724b3c344169035eb44ea8ce84b,
title = "A Test of Leading Explanations for the College Racial-Ethnic Achievement Gap: Evidence from a Longitudinal Case Study",
abstract = "In this study, we examined racial/ethnic differences in grade point average (GPA) among students at a highly selective, private university who were surveyed before matriculation and during the first, second and fourth college years, and assessed prominent explanations for the Black-White and Latino-White college achievement gap. We found that roughly half of the observed gap was attributable to family background characteristics and pre-college academic preparation. Of the within-college factors we considered, perceptions of campus climate and selection of major field of study were most important in explaining racial/ethnic differences in GPA. Personal resources, such as academic effort, self-esteem and academic identification, and patterns of involvement in campus life were significantly associated with GPA, but these factors did not account for racial/ethnic differences in academic performance. Overall, our results suggest that efforts to reduce the college achievement gap should focus on assisting students with the process of selecting major fields of study and on fostering a welcoming and inclusive campus environment.",
keywords = "Campus climate, Elite education, Racial/ethnic inequality, Student involvement",
author = "Nathan Martin and Spenner, {Kenneth I.} and Mustillo, {Sarah A.}",
year = "2016",
month = "9",
day = "20",
doi = "10.1007/s11162-016-9439-6",
language = "English (US)",
pages = "1--29",
journal = "Research in Higher Education",
issn = "0361-0365",
publisher = "Springer Netherlands",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A Test of Leading Explanations for the College Racial-Ethnic Achievement Gap

T2 - Evidence from a Longitudinal Case Study

AU - Martin, Nathan

AU - Spenner, Kenneth I.

AU - Mustillo, Sarah A.

PY - 2016/9/20

Y1 - 2016/9/20

N2 - In this study, we examined racial/ethnic differences in grade point average (GPA) among students at a highly selective, private university who were surveyed before matriculation and during the first, second and fourth college years, and assessed prominent explanations for the Black-White and Latino-White college achievement gap. We found that roughly half of the observed gap was attributable to family background characteristics and pre-college academic preparation. Of the within-college factors we considered, perceptions of campus climate and selection of major field of study were most important in explaining racial/ethnic differences in GPA. Personal resources, such as academic effort, self-esteem and academic identification, and patterns of involvement in campus life were significantly associated with GPA, but these factors did not account for racial/ethnic differences in academic performance. Overall, our results suggest that efforts to reduce the college achievement gap should focus on assisting students with the process of selecting major fields of study and on fostering a welcoming and inclusive campus environment.

AB - In this study, we examined racial/ethnic differences in grade point average (GPA) among students at a highly selective, private university who were surveyed before matriculation and during the first, second and fourth college years, and assessed prominent explanations for the Black-White and Latino-White college achievement gap. We found that roughly half of the observed gap was attributable to family background characteristics and pre-college academic preparation. Of the within-college factors we considered, perceptions of campus climate and selection of major field of study were most important in explaining racial/ethnic differences in GPA. Personal resources, such as academic effort, self-esteem and academic identification, and patterns of involvement in campus life were significantly associated with GPA, but these factors did not account for racial/ethnic differences in academic performance. Overall, our results suggest that efforts to reduce the college achievement gap should focus on assisting students with the process of selecting major fields of study and on fostering a welcoming and inclusive campus environment.

KW - Campus climate

KW - Elite education

KW - Racial/ethnic inequality

KW - Student involvement

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84988556927&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84988556927&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s11162-016-9439-6

DO - 10.1007/s11162-016-9439-6

M3 - Article

SP - 1

EP - 29

JO - Research in Higher Education

JF - Research in Higher Education

SN - 0361-0365

ER -