School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Tanisha Sapp


African American students, higher education, identity development, lived experiences, predominately white institutions, spiritual development, spirituality


Higher Education | Religion


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study is to document the lived experiences of African American (AA) students attending predominantly White institutions (PWI’s). The importance of capturing these experiences is to better understand how PWIs are properly equipped to serve the needs of their AA students. This study describe how AA students are experiencing spiritual and identity development while they are enrolled at a PWI. The two guiding theories of this study are Fowler’s Faith Development Theory and Erikson’s Identity Development Theory. These guiding theories have been paired together to address students’ spiritual development during their emerging adulthood years. The primary research question that the study will address is: How do AA students describe their experiences of spiritual and identity development while attending PWIs? The sub-questions of the study are: How do AA students who attend PWIs describe their experiences with student support services? What experiences do AA students perceive as contributing factors to their identity while attending PWIs? This qualitative study will employ transcendental phenomenology as the primary methodology. The setting of the study will be PWIs located in the southeastern region of the United States. Three themes emerged: (1) Displacement, (2) Self-Reliance, and (3) Resiliency. This study helps provide possible solutions to the imbalance in the spiritual and identity development of AA students attending PWI.