The Relationship of Self-Esteem, Racial Identity, and Membership in an Africentric Organization to Academic Achievement Among African-Americans

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Non-cognitive variables have been found to be better predictors of academic achievement than traditional cognitive-based test scores or high school graduation rank for African-American students. Studies by Tracey and Sedlacek (1984 and 1985) have indicated that non-cognitive variables such as self-esteem, understanding racism, having a supportive network, and possessing other social skills can predict persistence and achievement of African-American university students. This study has examined the relationship among non-cognitive variables of self-esteem, racial identity, and membership in an Africentric organization on the academic achievement of African-American community college students. Self-esteem, as defined by Coopersmith (1981), is "the evaluation which the individual makes and customarily maintains with regard to himself." The Self Esteem Inventory (SEI) was developed by Coopersmith (1967 revised 1981) to measure general self esteem. Cross (1978) proposed a developmental model of racial identity where the African-American passes through four stages from Negro to Black conversion, from negative to positive feelings. The Racial Identity Attitude Scale was created by Parham and Helms (1985) and is based on the Cross model of racial identity. The subject population consisted of 93 African-American students attending Northern Virginia Community College. There were 55 non-club members and 38 members of Africentric organizations. The data were analyzed using correlation, analysis of variance, and a multiple regression. The findings indicated: 1) Self-esteem was the only non-cognitive variable to have a relationship with academic achievement. 2) Racial Identity and club membership did not significantly affect academic achievement. The present exploratory study has provided a springboard for future research at the community college. College administrators and counselors should examine other non-cognitive variables effecting declining retention among middle-class suburban African-American community college students.