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Students of Color Perceptions of Faculty

The information below is a snapshot of the important role faculty play in the academic success and personal development of students of color. It is important to note that these points originated from research conducted on college campuses across the country and while the experience of students of color at Wentworth may vary, the information does challenge us to consider our own interactions with students.

  • …an increased retention rate of Hispanic students who indicated that faculty cared about their personal well-being and career development (Hernandez 2000).
  • indicated faculty interaction for Hispanic students positively affected their grade point average (Anaya & Cole, 2001).
  • For Native American students, a trusting relationship with a faculty member had a positive effect on adjustment (Wolf & Melnick, 1990). 
  • Black students often perceive faculty to be uninviting and inaccessible (Schwitzer 1999).
  • Suarez-Balcazar found that African American students perceive more interracial tension, reported significantly less satisfaction with their institution, and also reported that faculty often assess their academic performance more negatively than any other racial group (2003).
  • Watson and Kuh found that the quality of interaction with professors was almost as important for black students as individual effort to their achievement (1996).
  • According to Schwitzer, students’ confidence in approaching an instructor appeared to increase when (a) the pair was perceived to be more demographically similar, (b) their interests or area of study were similar of familiar, or (c) the student had more previous experience with the instructor and therefore had become familiar with him or her (1999).
  • Mexican Americans prefer to initiate a relationship with a faculty member of the same ethnicity (Noel & Smith 1996). Unfortunately, faculty on college campuses continue to be predominantly white (NCES 2004b).
  • African American students tend to experience predominantly white campuses as hostile (Schwitzer, 1999).

The Student Experience Diversity Committee conducts on a biannual basis a Campus Climate survey, which captures students’ experiences with diversity on campus. A copy of the most recent Campus Climate data is available upon request.