Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Nathan Bowling (Committee Member), Corey Miller (Advisor), Debra Steele-Johnson (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Differences between whites and blacks in academic performance are well documented in the research literature. Past research has focused more on stable factors, such as personality and cognitive ability, to try to explain race and gender differences. However, past research has not focused enough on the examination of malleable and socially influenced factors, such as valence of education and perceived parental and friend expectations. In addition, differences between the academic performances of certain groups might not be due to race but due to factors that covary with race. These factors may be unaccounted for while race is being used as a proxy variable. This research examined malleable factors that might explain race differences in academic performance that might be mistakenly attributed to more stable factors. Results indicated Perceived Expectation and Valence of Education measures fully supported and correlated positively with final course grades, while failing as proxy variables for race.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded