Publication Date

Summer 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Randall Capps (Director), Lester Archer, and Lacretia Dye

Degree Program

Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


African American males have faced significant challenges at institutions of higher education over the years (Harper, 2013; Griffith et al., 2019). This study aimed to examine the impact of spirituality on the retention of African American males attending a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) through a sequential explanatory mixed-methods design study.

The participants in the study were African American males (N = 47) with age range 18 to 48 years old all attending a mid-sized university located in the mid-western region of the United States during the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. The university is considered a Predominantly White Institution (PWI). In the quantitative phase, participants completed the Life Attitude Profile - Revised (LAP-R) questionnaire. In the second phase of the study, the qualitative phase, a nested sample (n = 12) participated in the interview protocol, Spirituality and Black males. The quantitative findings indicate that the perceptions of spirituality for African American males attending a PWI measured a reasonably high degree of spirituality (M = 83.29, SD =15.65). From the interview protocol, emerged four themes. The participants of this study used 1) spirituality to reinforce grit, 2) spirituality provided a sense of purpose, 3) prayer was used as a form of guidance and a coping mechanism, and 4) religious institutions provide spiritual support.

The results implicate that when African American males are connected to spiritual resources, they stay grounded and focused. Spirituality is a tool used to aid in the retention of African American males at PWIs. Institutions must find ways to link African American males early in their experience on campus to find connections and a network of support. Individuals who work directly with African American males must support and encourage acts of spirituality. Universities must be open to spiritual development and support for African American males and provide resources beyond religious affiliations.


African American Studies | Educational Leadership | Higher Education | Student Counseling and Personnel Services