School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


David Vacchi


self-efficacy, underrepresented, retention, mentorship, completion, STEM


Education | Higher Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand the undergraduate experiences of Black men who completed bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at small and large predominantly White institutions (PWIs) of higher learning in the United States. This study focused on student engagement, mentorship, and experiences of racism and discrimination as three factors that might influence Black men’s completion of STEM bachelor’s degrees at PWIs in the United States. The central research question for this study was, “What contributes to the success of Black STEM undergraduate men at predominantly White institutions of higher learning?” The self-efficacy theory guided this study. Shaun Harper’s (2010) anti-deficit achievement framework provided a conceptual framework for the study. The study setting was nonspecific small and large PWI campuses, as this study was not an assessment of specific campuses and explored the experiences of 17 Black alumni. Data sources included one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and journal prompts to develop detailed, thick descriptions of the participants’ experiences. The data were analyzed using a combination of phenomenological reduction methods described by Moustakas and Creswell. Findings suggest that engagement and fictive kin are two main contributors to Black men completing their STEM degrees at PWIs.