School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Susan Stanley


African American, first-generation college students, Historically Black College and Universities, persistence, primarily White institutions, retention


Education | Higher Education


Many first-generation, African American male students who enroll in primarily White institutions do not persist. This phenomenological study aimed to understand academic persistence in first-generation African American male students enrolled at a four-year, primarily White institution. The theory guiding this study is the theory of human motivation developed by Abraham Maslow. Maslow's theory of motivation provided the necessary framework that assisted in understanding the basic needs required first-generation, African American male students to persist academically. A qualitative research methodology was appropriate as it is designed to increase understanding of first-generation African American male students' lived experiences as they endeavor to persist academically. Transcendental phenomenology was selected for this study because it allowed the researcher to develop essential descriptions of the participants' lived experiences. The setting for this transcendental, phenomenological study was a four-year, private institution, Odonald Hill University, located in the Midwest region of the United States. The sample was derived from a Facebook Group, Empowering African American First Gen. The selected sample size was 12 first-generation, African American, male students enrolled in a US four-year, primarily White institution. The researcher utilized three data collection methods: semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and surveys to attain data. Data analysis for this study followed Moustakas’ (1994) modified Van Kaam method of data analysis.