Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Coaxum, James

Committee Member 1

Kowalsky, Michelle

Committee Member 2

Quadro, Loredana


African American, Fit, Latina, Science Campus Community, Sense of Belonging


Minorities in higher education; Women in higher education; Women science students


Higher Education


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the sense of belonging of underrepresented African American and Latina undergraduate women in science majors. More specifically, the study focused on the factors that contributed to the participants being engaged or disengaged in the science campus community. The use of narratives provided a detailed understanding about experiences that described the participants’ sense of belonging at the higher education level. Sense of belonging was used as a framework for understanding the experiences and the motivation of African American and Latina undergraduate women studying in a science major. The research method utilized for this study was narrative inquiry. Twenty undergraduate women participated in a two-tier data collection process. In the first tier, eight participants provided their personal narratives through semi-structured interviews. In the second tier, five focus groups were conducted. Analysis of the data and interpretation was guided using the hermeneutic circle of understanding. The major findings of the study are that the participants felt a sense of belonging because of the ongoing support from family, peers, the campus-learning center, and the minority science program. Other factors such as motivation to succeed, overcoming stereotypical barriers, academic challenge also contributed to their experience in the science campus community.