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Does the Multicultural Student Services Center Create a Sense of Mattering for First Generation, Black Students?

Karoline N Oliveira, Johnson & Wales University


Reports indicate that White students’ college graduation rates are more than twice that of their Black peers (NCES, 2015). First-generation students also graduate in fewer numbers than students having at least one parent with a bachelor’s degree (Stephens, Hamedani & Destin, 2014). Researchers suggest unwelcoming racial climates and challenges to feelings of belonging contribute to the attrition of these students. (Strayhorn, 2008; & Wilkins, 2014). Culture centers have long been credited with fostering a sense of belonging for Black students (Patton, 2006, a,b; Pittman, 1994), however research is lacking affirming the success of these centers.This quantitative, correlational study employed a survey questionnaire using Schlossberg’s marginality and mattering as a framework to investigate students' perceptions of one multicultural student services center’s (MSSC) creating a sense of mattering for them (N = 64).Guiding research questions:1. How do first-generation Black students rate the MSSC on the five, specificdimensions of mattering: Attention, Importance, Ego-Extension, Dependence andAppreciation?2. Is there a significant relationship between students’ ratings of the MSSC andacademic year?3. Is there a difference in MSSC ratings by first-generation, Black students with lowlevels of engagement compared to those with high levels of engagement?4. How do students believe the center can be improved?Descriptive statistics were run to analyze the quantitative data addressing RQ’s 1–3. Data analysis for RQ4 included a constant comparative approach, evaluating all relevant responses by coding them to create meaning and themes.The data analysis revealed, students rated the center at average or above at least 92% of the time within all 5 dimensions of mattering. There was a significant difference between academic year and the Attention dimension (F = 5.005, p = .004). Third-year students rated the Attention dimension higher than first and second-year students. Students with higher levels of engagement rated the center higher on all five dimensions. 54.7% (n = 35) of students suggested increasing the number of events and services offered and 21.9 % (n = 14) suggested better promotion of the center and participant recruitment.The findings from this study may assist institutional leaders seeking to foster a sense of mattering for first-generation, Black students.

Subject Area

Multicultural Education|Higher education|Educational psychology|Black studies

Recommended Citation

Oliveira, Karoline N, "Does the Multicultural Student Services Center Create a Sense of Mattering for First Generation, Black Students?" (2017). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI27544978.