Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Lim, Caroline


Background and Purpose: Although in most recent years, the academic achievement gap between African- American and Caucasian students have slightly decreased, it continues to be a national issue. Previous studies have found that African American students are more likely to receive disciplinary punishment, such as suspension or expulsion, causing them to have lower grades and higher dropout rates, when paired with a Caucasian teacher. On the contrary, when they are paired with an African American teacher, they tend to experience higher rates of academic satisfaction. These findings tend to derive from studies that solely focused on racial match and academic satisfaction in the primary and secondary schools; therefore, this observational study gathered cross-sectional data from 44 African American social work students to examine the relationship between professorial-student racial match and academic satisfaction in higher education. This study hypothesized that African American social work students paired with an African American professor would experience higher rates of academic satisfaction. Methods: Participants were recruited using convenience non-probability sampling methods. Eligible participants were self-identified as African American and current or former BASW or MSW social work students during the study recruitment period. Participants completed a short online survey. Data was gathered on the participant’s demographics, professorial-student racial match, and academic satisfaction. Participants indicated the number of courses they have taken in which the professor was African American to measure student-professorial racial match. Academic satisfaction was measured using a 7-item validated scale. Results: The participants’ average age was 29.0 (SD = 6.4, range 22-45). Majority of the participants identified as female (72.73%) with an even distribution of BASW and MSW students. Participants on average took 4.4 (SD = 2.3, range 1-10) classes in which the professor identified as African American. The average academic satisfaction score in this sample was 4.4 (SD = 1.2, range = 1-5), suggesting that on average participants had high levels of academic satisfaction. Findings from the Kruskal-Wallis test revealed a statistically significant difference in academic satisfaction between students with low and high levels of student-professorial match, ꭓ2 (2,44) = 7.70, p = .021. Conclusion: Findings underscore the importance of faculty diversity in higher education, which could enhance educational outcomes for African American students and thereby close the academic achievement gap.

Included in

Social Work Commons