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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An exploratory study of the experiences and perspectives of African-American, Latina/o, Asian-American and European-American students: “Is one of these things still not like the others?”
by Wimms, Harriette E., Ph.D., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2008, 293; 3324648
Abstract (Summary)

As the cultural and racial/ethnic landscape of the U.S. continues to change, psychologists from varied cultural backgrounds will be called upon to address issues of equity, diversity, and well-being among the population. Despite decades of initiatives within the field of psychology to increase the numbers of ethnic/racial minorities among its ranks, African-American and Latina/o doctoral students continue to be underrepresented and the numbers of African-American, Latina/o and Asian-American professors in psychology departments continue to be at levels far below those commensurate with their U.S. population representations. However, little is known about the experiences of Black, Latina/o and Asian-American graduate students in psychology.

This “mixed-method” qualitative and quantitative research study utilized interview and survey data to examine the graduate psychology student experience among African-American, Latina/o, Asian-American and White students across the United States. Overall, the results reveal similarities in the lived experiences of students of color and White students, and also a number of important areas where distinctive differences are present. Specifically, both qualitative and quantitative findings reveal similarities in why students choose to become psychology students, the encouraging circumstances that help them persist in doctoral programs, and suggestions of means to support future generations of students. Also, a number of important facets of the graduate school experience predicted satisfaction independent of ethnicity. Important areas of difference between students of color and White students (as well as to some extent between the three minority groups) revealed by qualitative and/or quantitative methods include challenges faced, perceptions of cultural diversity within the academic environment, and the perceived relationship between ethnicity and supports, barriers, and future employment aspirations. Additionally, differences between White students and students of color were generally found across perceptions of ethnicity and circumstances of graduate school.

The implications of the study findings are related to previous research and an ecological perspective in psychology higher education. Consideration of limitations of the present study, recommendations for future research, and implications for psychology training and the field at large conclude the study.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Maton, Kenneth
Commitee: Bediako, Shawn, Boatman, Craig, Brodsky, Anne, Lott, Bernice
School: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-B 69/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Black studies, Psychology, Ethnic studies, Hispanic American studies, Higher education, African American Studies
Keywords: African-American, Asian-American, Doctoral studies, Ethnic/racial minorities, Ethnicity, European-American, Latina/o, Persistence, Psychology, Psychology departments
Publication Number: 3324648
ISBN: 978-0-549-76249-2
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