Enrollment Facilitators and Barriers Among African American Students in Kinesiology

Thursday, March 15, 2012
Poster Area 1 (Foyer Outside Exhibit Hall C) (Convention Center)
J. P. Barfield, Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville, TN, D. C. Cobler, Emory & Henry College, Emory, VA, Eddie T. C. Lam, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH and James Zhang, University of Georgia, Gainesville, FL

Background/Purpose To enhance student diversity, kinesiology departments must understand those factors facilitating and hampering enrollment decisions among prospective minority candidates. The primary purpose of this study was to identify facilitators and barriers to kinesiology-based academic programs among minority students. The secondary purpose was to determine if perceived facilitators and barriers differed from White students in the same programs.

Method Following IRB approval, minority students from five different kinesiology departments completed enrollment decision making and barrier surveys (Barfield, Folio, Lam & Zhang, 2011a; 2011b). Degree programs consisted of exercise science, physical education licensure, pre-occupational therapy, pre-physical therapy, and sport management. Due to a limited rate of response from multiple minority groups, the minority student sample was delimited to African-American (n=68).

Analysis/Results One-sample t-tests revealed that career opportunity, individual aspiration, and physical self-efficacy factors were significant (p<.01) facilitators to program enrollment. Although the perceived benefit of these facilitators was greater in African-Americans students, the differences were not statistically different from White students (n=68; p≥.05). Of the five barrier factors in the survey, minority students did not rank any as a major barrier to enrollment. It is important to note that African-American students reported a significantly (p<.05) greater barrier to career opportunity than did White students.

Conclusions These findings suggest that reduced minority enrollment in kinesiology-based programs is not necessarily due to perceived attitudinal differences between ethnic groups. However, the difference in perceived barriers to professional opportunities highlights the need for programs to increase recruitment efforts for African-American students.