Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kofi Lomotey


This study examined the relationship between early exposure to violence--both personal and community--and the later academic achievement of African American first time college students. The study incorporated several variables that were thought to impinge upon the academic achievement process. Specifically, those variables were divided into several groups: background factors (socioeconomic status, high school academic record, personal and community violence exposure), student characteristics (locus of control, educational aspirations and expectations), and university characteristics (campus safety, academic and social integration). Student achievement was measured by students' expected grade point average, as indicated on a student questionnaire. University administrators, professors, and researchers who study the nation's institutions of higher learning have long been interested in improving the academic performance of African American college students. Concomitantly, learning theories that proliferate in educational literature have gained wide recognition for their potential to explain the academic development of young adults in post secondary educational settings. Yet little research addressing the academic development of African American college students has been conducted. This study departs from similar studies that have been conducted because while its focus is academic achievement, it specifically examines the influence of early exposure to violence upon that process. Theoretically, early exposure to personal and community violence and the manner in which that exposure impacts upon the later academic achievement of college students is a complex one. Early violence exposure impacts upon the student's locus of control; the locus of control attribution then determines the student's predisposition and motivation toward seeking assistance and pursuing academic endeavors. Traditional variables that have been studied in the past were also found to have strong correlations with academic achievement. Case studies have been included as a means of strengthening the contention of a relationship between early exposure to violence and the later academic achievement of African American first time college students.