Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Joanna Karet


A 2016 cultural diversity and inclusion study conducted at a local private college (LPC) in the Midwest United States revealed concern among faculty about the underutilization of academic support services for African American and Hispanic American (AAHA) students. A gap exists between the number of AAHA students who use academic support services at LPC, and the number of AAHA students recommended to the services. The research questions were, “How do AAHA students’ perceptions about support services influence their use of academic support services at the LPC?” and “What do AAHA students suggest that could increase their use of the support services at the LPC?” Tinto's theory of institutional departure from higher education was the conceptual framework for this study. The basic qualitative study data were collected through in-person, phone, and one written interview with nine enrolled AAHA students. The data were analyzed by coding for themes that addressed the research questions. The interview questions aligned with the research questions. The key findings included (a) knowledge of academic support resources; (b) lack of staff and faculty diversity; (c) feelings of discomfort, isolation, lack of belonging; and (d) inconsistent supportive academic support and accountability. Member checking was used to verify interview responses and establish credibility and trustworthiness for the study. A professional development seminar was designed to demonstrate findings for LPC’s personnel and stakeholders. Social change may occur from this study because the study provided LPC with the ability to improve AAHA student academic services, thereby increasing college completions.

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