Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis




Clinical-Community Psychology

First Advisor

Shauna M Cooper


A large body of research has focused on factors associated with the academic success (i.e. college adjustment, high GPA's, graduation, and retention) of African American students (Davis, 1994; Holmes, Ebbers, Robinson, & Mugenda, 2000). In particular, students' academic beliefs have emerged as an important predictor of academic performance for college students (Awad, 2007; Cokley 2002). Also, studies have suggested that racial identity beliefs are important in understanding the educational outcomes of African American students (Caldwell, & Obasi, 2010; Fordham & Obgu, 1986; Marryshow & Boykin, 1992). Although research has demonstrated the independent association of both academic and racial identity beliefs, few studies have examined the interactive role of these factors on the educational outcomes of African American students. With this in mind, the current study examined the association between racial identity beliefs (centrality, private, and public regard), academic beliefs (e.g., perceptions of academic ability), and students' educational outcomes (GPA; educational expectations). One-hundred seventy African American students (M= 20.33; SD=3.56) attending two Universities in the Southeastern region of the United States participated in this investigation.

Findings from the current study indicated that centrality, private regard, and public regard were not associated with educational outcomes. However, students' perception of their academic ability were found to be associated with GPA (β=.25, p<.01) and expectations of graduating college (β=.20, p<.01). Additionally, public regard (β=.19, p<.05) moderated the association between academic beliefs and educational expectations, such that, for youth with greater public regard, more positive academic perceptions were associated with greater educational expectations (e.g., likelihood of completing college). Finally, a 3-way interaction between centrality, private regard, and perceptions of academic ability was found to be associated with expectations of graduating college (β=-.56, p<.01). In particular, for African American students with greater racial centrality and lower private regard beliefs, increases in perceptions of academic ability was associated with higher expectations of graduating from college. Implications for the role of academic and race-related beliefs in promoting the academic success of African American college students are discussed.


© 2012, Melanie Avery