Shaun R. Harper

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

Spring 3-12-2009


equitable education, student engagement


Peña, Bensimon, and Colyar (2006) noted: “Not only do African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans have lower graduation rates than [do] Whites and Asian Americans, they also experience inequalities in just about every indicator of academic success – from earned grade point average to placement on the dean’s list to graduation rates in competitive majors” (p. 48). While these and other racialized outcomes disparities cannot be attributed to a narrow set of explanatory factors, one thing is known for sure: College students who are actively engaged inside and outside the classroom are considerably more likely than are their disengaged peers to persist through baccalaureate degree attainment. Furthermore, engaged students typically accrue the desired outcomes that are central to liberal education. This is especially true for engagement in what Kuh (2008) refers to as “high-impact” educational experiences – study abroad programs, learning communities, undergraduate research programs, service learning opportunities, and summer internships, to name a few. Unfortunately, racial minority undergraduates are considerably less likely than are their White peers to enjoy the educational benefits associated with these experiences.