Difference Between Female and Male African American Community College Students in Engagement: The Centrality of Intersectionality

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Community College Leadership Program


Doctor of Education

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This dissertation built upon George Kuh’s theory of student engagement and demonstrated that it must be expanded to be meaningful by including the ramifications of intersectionality. Ex post facto data were drawn from a longitudinal study on student engagement in community colleges which was based, in general, on the Theory of Student Engagement as framed by George Kuh (1995, 1997, 2003, 2005, 2008a, 2008b, 2009, 2010, and 2013). Kuh’s theories were first applied to studies of students attending senior higher education institutions (the National Study of Student Engagement), but they were then adapted by the Community College Center for the Study of Student Engagement into a survey of community colleges, named the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, CCSSE, beginning in 2001. About two-thirds of the 1200 community college systems in the United States have been involved in the CCSSE reports since that time, and many researchers and graduate students have used their data to probe the nature of student engagement in modern community colleges, as does this study. The purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate differences in student engagement levels between African American females and African American males, according to CCSSE data. In addition, the study used the theories of Crenshaw (1989), Abes and Jones (2016). The research utilized a national data set of 648 students drawn from the 2014 CCSSE cohort. The study employed descriptive statistics to analyze African American student demographic characteristics. Data revealed significant differences between African American female and African American male community college student levels in two of the five benchmarks used in CCSSE data (2014). Major findings demonstrated that African American female community college students had a greater degree of engagement than did their male peers in two categories, Student Effort and Student-Faculty Interaction, although the levels of engagement in the other benchmarks were similar for the genders. Analysis of the benchmarks advances the centrality of intersectionality in understanding student engagement.