Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
The percentage of qualified African American senior military leaders is significantly lower than the percentage of African Americans serving in the enlisted ranks. With the changing demographics of the 21st century, increasing the number of African American Army officers is a practical as well a moral issue. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to understand African American cadets' perception of the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Leadership Program and the impact of ROTC on their lives. The theoretical basis for this study is Sternberg's theory of intelligence and Woodman, Sawyer, and Griffin's theory of organizational creativity. The research problem explored the relationship between African American college student retention and their success in ROTC programs. A random sample of 23 junior and senior ROTC cadets at a Historically Black College and University completed a self-administered survey; 12 cadets later participated in an unstructured focus group interview. A statistical analysis revealed positive correlations between African American college student retention and the level of support offered by institutions, families, and peers. Qualitative analysis using the phenomenological approach resulted in data that supported the statistical findings. Results of this study may lead to positive social change through the identification of student influences that promote academic and military achievement, as well as effective retention strategies for African American Army ROTC cadets. Understanding the perceptions of African American cadets about ROTC programs can enhance recruitment and retention efforts of administrators and instructors in both ROTC and higher institutions of learning.