Title

"I Refuse to Die": Exploring the Relationship Between Spirituality and Persistence Among African American PH.D. Students and Graduates

Date

8-2018

Department

School of Behavioral Sciences

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Chair

John C. Thomas

Keywords

African Americans and Persistence, African Americans and Spirituality, Faith and African Americans, Spirituality and Higher Education, Spirituality Scale, Tinto’s Attrition Model

Disciplines

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Higher Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

African American doctoral students experience the highest levels of attrition (60%) in the nation and the most social and academic challenges in higher education. Concurrently, research supports that African Americans are among the most spiritual people in America. This study applied hierarchical logistic regression to investigate the relationship between spirituality and persistence among African American doctoral students (N = 179). Tinto’s model of attrition, a systematic framework to predict degree completion based on suicide theory, was employed. Reliable instruments, the Institutional Integration Scale and the Spirituality Scale, were utilized. Results revealed that (a) different levels of spirituality were related to Tinto’s central elements to degree completion; (b) African Americans with high levels of spirituality were three times more likely to finish their program than those with low levels of spirituality; (c) spiritual attribution, a dimension of spirituality, was positively related to degree completion; and (c) holding a leadership position in one’s faith community was negatively related to degree completion.

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