Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Thomas E. Miller, Ed.D.

Committee Member

William Young, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Robert Sullins, Ed.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


Social Integration, Informal Interactional Diversity, Student Engagement, Undergraduate Males, Co-Curricular Dialogue, Multicultural Competence


The diversity of the undergraduate student population encourages understanding of others and provides opportunities for students to challenge their assumptions of cultures, political and religious views, values, and personal backgrounds. However, it also creates challenges for academic and student success as faculty and administrators struggle to meet different generational and cultural needs. A broader, more inclusive definition of student success may help meet the needs of a more modern complex institutional student demographic. It may also allow for new avenues of research specifically related to success for Black, Hispanic, and White undergraduate male students, as these students continue to struggle in higher education (Bailey & Moore, 2004; Barker & Avery, 2012; Conger & Long, 2010; Harper, 2006b; Harper & Kuykendall, 2012; Kuh & Love, 2000; Kuh et al., 2007; Sax & Arms, 2006; Sax & Harper, 2007; Spruhill, Hirt, & Mo, 2014; Strayhorn, 2010a; Sutton & Kimbrough, 2001).

Meanwhile, the concept of globalization and global citizenship are being integrated into higher education at many levels in both academic and student affairs. Many institutions are integrating these concepts into policies and programs, which provide opportunities for diverse interactions, conversations, and experiences. Informal interactional diversity, which is defined as “the opportunity to interact with students from diverse backgrounds in the broad, campus environment” (Gruin, 1999, para. 4), is a concept related to globalization and global citizenship, but not much research exists to show how it might impact student success. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to further explore informal interactional diversity in Black, Hispanic, and White undergraduate males and its possible relationship to the multi-faceted nature of student engagement. The resulting framework for this study was built around Tinto’s (1993) theory of social integration, Astin’s (1993a) theory of student involvement, and persistence research by Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) because these models highlighted important environmental factors that informed research on informal interactional diversity.

In this quantitative study, the researcher utilized a purposeful, national sample of secondary data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to analyze levels of informal interactional diversity in Black, Hispanic, and White undergraduate men. The sample included 3,613 Black, Hispanic, and White undergraduate men who were enrolled at five participating large, public predominantly White institutions (PWIs) in the United States and completed the survey with an appended Experiences with Diverse Perspectives topical module in 2013 and 2014. The majority of the males in the sample were White and classified as seniors, or fourth-year undergraduate students (n = 1,830).

Statistical analyses, such analysis of variances (ANOVAs) and multiple regressions tests, were conducted to examine the relationships between variables (informal interactional diversity, classification in college, and student engagement). Results of the analysis indicated the relationships between informal interactional diversity, male ethnic group, and student engagement were statistically significant. Additionally, findings indicated there was a significant relationship between levels of informal interactional diversity and classification in college, as well as classification in college and male ethnic group.

Implications for future research based on the findings of this study included: a) investigating how reflective and integrative learning, as well as supportive environment, affect engagement for the undergraduate male populations studied; b) examining why decreases in qualitative reasoning, effective teaching practices, and collaborative learning occur for these undergraduate male populations; c) investigating these variables using samples of participants at different types of institutions; and d) conducting a mixed-methods study with a qualitative portion, or a purely qualitative study, focused on male student perceptions of informal interactional diversity, student engagement, and campus climate or race relations at PWIs to gain more insight on the lived experience of Black, Hispanic, and White males.

The conclusion of this research study was that the findings support much of the literature related to informal interactional diversity, as well as the success of Black, Hispanic, and White males.