This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Graduate Students of Color at PWIs: School Belonging, Ethnic Identity and Mental Health




Calder, Claudia

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


This study sought to explore the perceived sense of belonging of graduate Students of Color who attend Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). Utilizing Baumeister & Leary’s, (1995) belongingness hypothesis as a foundation, this research was guided by the premise that perceived sense of belonging is related to mental health outcomes for Students of Color at PWIs, and that alignment with ethnic identity is an important factor. The purpose of this study is (a) to determine whether there is a relationship between Sense of Belonging (as measured by Antecedent and Psychological state), student alignment with Ethnic Identity (as measured by exploratory and commitment), Depression, Anxiety, and Stress for Graduate Students of Color at PWIs and (b) to determine whether type of undergraduate institution (attending an HBCU or PWI) is a factor that indicates differences in these variables. A total of 219 graduate Students of Color from PWIs across the United States completed a demographic survey, the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure-Revised (MEIM-R; Phinney & Ong, 2007), the Sense of Belonging Instrument (SOBI; Hagerty et al., 1996) and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS; Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995). Analyses conducted in this study included canonical correlational and MANOVA. Results of the canonical correlational analyses yielded three functions. The first function accounted for about 87% of the explained variance and was statistically significant. The second function accounted for about 12% of the explained variance. The final function accounted for only about 1% of the explained variance and was not statistically significant. Results of the MANOVA showed that gender, current graduate level and type of undergraduate institution were not significant factors in differences between Sense of Belonging, Depression, Anxiety, and Stress for this sample of Graduate Students if color at PWIs. Clinical implications and areas for future research are also described.