DESCRIPTION: Mentoring will be provided for the selected student to participate in the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from a project involving a local university. This study will examine the experiences of Black student-athletes who attend a predominantly white institutions (PWI) and its effects on their racial, academic and athletic identity.

In this research project, we will study the benefits of a new intervention (called Level the Field, or LTF) that was designed to help Black student athletes to create a stronger sense of belonging and subsequent positive academic outcomes at a PWI. The primary goal of this study is that athlete participants will explore how racial, academic and athletic identities result in conflicting agency within the higher education experience, which in turn may create a sense of alienation and low self-concept in their academic abilities. The mentoring program involves workshop sessions, working with life coaches and completing identity and self-concept inventories. The LTF program is grounded in a cultural competency framework and is intended to help the Black student-athlete navigate their racial, academic and athletic identities to create their own personal toolkit for academic achievement.  This research is also intended to explore factors that are needed to create a sustainable model to support the enhancement of Black student-athletes’ college experience through inclusion programming, with the ultimate goal in creating a more equitable pathway for Black student-athlete success during and after college. We seek to answer the following research questions: (1) How does the Black student-athlete understand cultural competence? (2) Is it possible to positively impact the student-athlete’s experience in racial socialization on a PWI and subsequent perceptions of racial identity, self-concept, and achievement in academics and in his or her sport?

Each of these research questions works to close the educational opportunity gap that currently exists for Black student-athletes in success during and after college while also enhancing the Black student-athletes’ college experience by promoting inclusion and belonging. Work on this mixed methods (QUAL-QUAN) research project that includes attending remote (and possibly in-person) meetings with research team, analyzing pre/posttest results and coding interview data to help the team answer the research questions. Students who contribute substantively will be included as contributing authors on conference presentations and academic journal articles.

IDEAL CANDIDATES: Individuals from the School of Social Work or School of Law.

LOCATION: Hybrid – Remote & In-person

PROJECT LEAD/PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Susan De La Paz, PhD, Professor, Special Education, College of Education, University of Maryland, College Park