CSUN Study Aims to Increase Student-Athlete Academic Success


CSUN’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has joined with the University of Pennsylvania to study the experiences of women athletes and students of color.

California State University, Northridge and the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education have joined forces to participate in a project to determine student success for women and students of color who participate in athletics at CSUN.

Historically, African-American and Latino student-athletes have been underrepresented in higher education, and women have been inadequately represented in intercollegiate athletics. The project, which will be conducted at CSUN, will focus on the student-athlete experience in three main areas: campus engagement, athletics and academic success.

The project is aligned with the CSUN athletics department’s “Comprehensive Excellence” agenda, according to CSUN director of intercollegiate athletics Brandon E. Martin, Ed.D.

“Our most important pursuit is the academic success of CSUN’s student-athletes,” said Martin. “Gaining in-depth insights into the experiences of student-athletes who represent diverse backgrounds is consistent with the athletics department’s and the university’s commitment to student success. It is indeed an honor and a privilege to partner with my colleagues at Penn and Dr. Frank Harris III on this significant project.”

Shaun R. Harper, Ph.D., founder and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the Penn Graduate School of Education, will oversee a research team that will participate in each step of the study. Harper is a national authority on race and equity in education and recently completed a comprehensive 50-state policy report on access and equity for black undergraduate men at public colleges and universities for the Congressional Black Caucus.

“CSUN athletics is pursuing important insights into the experiences of student-athletes who enhance the university’s diversity,” said Harper.

Frank Harris III, Ed.D., M.A. ’99 (Speech Communications), an associate professor at San Diego State University and co-director of the Minority Male Community College Collaborative, will join Harper and his fellow researchers from the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education to gather data on this project.

“I commend Dr. Martin and his colleagues for their commitment to ensuring that women, Latino and African-American student-athletes at CSUN have rewarding and well-rounded undergraduate experiences,” Harris said. “The insights that emerge from this project will not only help to strengthen the student-athlete experience at CSUN, but may also result in a set of promising practices that can be incorporated at other athletics programs across the country.”

The project will gauge the experiences of female students of all ethnicities and male students of color who participate in CSUN athletics through focus groups with student-athletes who volunteer to be part of the project. Based on the findings, the research team will offer ways for CSUN administrators to enhance student success and the quality of their undergraduate experience. Finally, the group will analyze the extent to which women have opportunities to thrive as student-athletes at CSUN.

“The implications for student success from this report cannot be overstated,” said Elizabeth Adams, Ph.D., associate vice president of undergraduate studies at CSUN. “Not only will it allow CSUN to help our most academically vulnerable student-athletes to succeed, it will also aid us in overall student success. Ultimately, this study can have a profound impact on the success of the CSUN athletics program and on the university as a whole.”



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