Campus Location

Abilene Campus

Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Communication

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Committee Chair

Jonathan Camp

Second Committee Member

Kristina Davis

Third Committee Member

Lauren Lemley

Abstract

Research shows that the credibility of instructors of color is often questioned by White students, while other studies prove that male instructors are also perceived as more credible than female instructors (Hendrix, 1997; Perry, Moore, Edwards, Acosta, & Frey, 2009). When these two findings are coupled, it seems that there might be a significant barrier to overcome for female instructors of color in their everyday instruction. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore perceived credibility for female instructors of color at faith-based universities, namely, Evangelical Christian universities. Based on my analysis of the interview data, these six female instructors of color at faith-based universities perceive their experiences as positive ones, and although they must often overcome barriers to gaining credibility involving student attitudes and a negotiation of their credibility among those students, many experience open-mindedness and change in their students over the course of the semester. Five core themes emergent in this study include: 1) Perceptions of university culture; 2) Faith integration; 3) Student attitudes; 4) Instructor attitudes and behaviors; 5) Instructor self-concepts. This discussion of this study aims to describe how the Christian university culture can facilitate credibility building for female instructors of color. Furthermore, it discusses how the concept of homophily can simultaneously be helpful and harmful for female instructors of color as it relates to the way they integrate faith in the classroom. It describes the standpoint from which female instructors of color describe their underrepresentation and tokenism. Finally, the discussion of this study raises important questions about how female instructors of color can facilitate more diversity and inclusion on their university campuses, which is often a vital mission of faith-based PWIs.

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