Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


University of Northern Iowa--Students; African American women--Education (Higher)--Iowa--Cedar Falls; African American college students--Iowa--Cedar Falls--Social conditions;


This study examined the social experiences of African American female students at a predominantly white institution finding that in several areas of student life African American female students persisted to graduation without necessarily establishing informal social interactions within the university community. This is contrary to Vincent Tinto's posit that students who fail to make a connection with the campus community are more likely to withdraw from the institution. This study introduces the term irrelation as a descriptor of a social construct I have applied to African American female college students on the campus of a large, public, mid-western university. Irrelation is a term used to describe the concept in which an individual or group functions within a social setting without a high level of relationship or connection with other members of that community.

This study includes a 1–2 hour, semi-structured interview with each participant. All interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed. The participants created pseudonyms in order to maintain a high level of confidentiality. A semi-structured interview consisting of exploratory statements was utilized. This study is to provide direction for the University of Northern Iowa that will assist in the development of programs designed to enhance the life of African American female students on campus. While the results may not necessarily be generalized to all campuses, they may raise questions and present implications for other institutions. The results of this study can be of direct use to departments such as Admissions, Residence, Student Activities, and Counseling as well as educational researchers, faculty, and other student affairs practitioners. Additionally, the results will also serve to increase the body of knowledge in the area of Women's Studies, African American Studies, and Student Development. This study may benefit the African American female students through the evaluation of current programs and services and with the development of new and relevant directives designed to foster an environment that is conducive to their social well being. The findings and perspectives interpreting the findings will further the knowledge relating to race, gender, and education.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Postsecondary Education

First Advisor

Michael Waggoner, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 124 pages)



File Format