Disparities in health, belonging, and academic achievement still persist between racial/ethnic minority and White college students. While previous research has demonstrated that college students’ experiences with their peers shape their well-being, most of this research has not investigated the larger social structures that minorities inhabit during college. Thus, this dissertation explores how the racial composition of and the racial bias within collegiate micro- climates—smaller, distinct groups within larger communities—are associated with students’ mental and physical health, belonging, and academic outcomes. Chapter 1 examines how different conceptualizations of racial diversity, which have been conflated in previous research, are related to students’ well-being. Specifically, I was interested in whether both minority and White students fare better in micro-climates where there is greater ingroup and minority representation, respectively. I examined the racial composition of dormitory halls (Study 1), dorm rooms (Studies 2a and 2b), and undergraduate student bodies (Study 3) and found that the racial composition of these micro-climates was associated with students’ outcomes. While the evidence was mixed as to whether greater racial diversity was beneficial, the results did suggest that the way racial diversity is operationalized matters, particularly for minorities. Chapter 2 focuses on minorities and explores how being in a racially biased micro-climate may influence their well-being. I measured the racial attitudes of minority students’ White hallmates to test whether hallmate bias was negatively associated with minorities’ outcomes, above and beyond minorities’ perceptions of bias (Study 4). I found almost no evidence of a relationship between hallmate racial bias and minorities’ well-being. The unanticipated findings across both chapters highlight the need for more research examining how the various social groups minority students belong to may contribute to their mental and physical health, belonging, and academic success.
|Advisor:||Shelton, J. Nicole, Sinclair, Stacey|
|Commitee:||Coman, Alin, Lew-Williams, Casey, Cooper, Joel|
|School Location:||United States -- New Jersey|
|Source:||DAI-A 82/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Social psychology, Higher education, Educational psychology, Educational sociology|
|Keywords:||College students, Racial bias, Racial diversity, Well-being|
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