Analyzing the Internal and External Dimensions of Hope in College Students Attending a Predominantly White Institution
Black people now have more access to college and are increasingly obtaining a greater number of higher education degrees than ever, yet for this racially marginalized group, post-secondary educational attainment success rates still lag behind their peers of other racial-ethnic groups (Snyder et al., 2019). While the higher education literature on college degree attainment shows that Black students earn fewer degrees than their white and Asian peers, little is known about how hope shapes their motivation and persistence toward degree attainment. The purpose of this three-article dissertation was to explore the cultural and contextual factors that shape the hoper experiences of college students, with particular attention to Black students. Data were drawn from a sample of 1,061 college students attending a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) in the Southeastern United States. The first paper in this dissertation features a psychometric study that utilizes Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) to validate the Locus of Hope scale. The second empirical paper utilized Latent Class Analysis (LCA) to analyze the relationship between student background characteristics and internal hope profiles. The third and final empirical paper utilized LCA to analyze students external hope profiles as well as their accompanied social-demographic characteristics. When combined, these proposed analytic models, and the diverse conceptualizations of hope they implicate, offer researchers fresh insights into how hope “works” among culturally diverse students attending a PWI. These findings indicate that individual hope experiences vary according to students racial/ethnic background and that those experiences appear to be firmly anchored in students social ecologies and developmental networks (i.e., family, friends, and spirituality). Institutions of higher education can use these findings to better support students’ peer, family, and community ecologies in support of racially marginalized student retention and degree completion.