Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

Education PhD, Joint with San Diego State University


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

André Branch

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

William Perez

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Felisha Herrera Villarreal

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Lucrecia Santibañez

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2020 Nicole Belisle


Essence of Multiracial College Experience, Multiracial Identity, Self-Understanding

Subject Categories

Higher Education


Many researchers have investigated factors that contribute to Multiracial identity development. This study expands the literature on Multiracial identity development by exploring the perceptions of Multiracial students about their self-concept across college campuses in the United States. This study had a twofold purpose, with the first purpose to examine the behaviors and activities Multiracial students engaged in while in college in order to identify factors that affect their self-understanding and to consider the role of the higher education institution in supporting those factors. The second purpose is to understand the “essence” of the phenomenon of identifying as Multiracial and attending college after 2010. This study was informed by Wijeyesinghe’s (2001; 2012) model of intersecting factors contributing to Multiracial identity development. Perceptions of Multiracial college students about their self-understanding were explored through an explanatory sequential mixed methods research design. The three research questions for this study included: 1. What is the relationship between ethnicity/race related college activities and self-understanding for Multiracial college students? 2. How is the meaning of self-understanding developed in college, particularly through ethnicity/race related activities for Multiracial college students? 3. How do Multiracial students describe their self-concept development given the race-related activities they participated in during their college experience? The first research question was explored through the analysis of existing data provided by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) from their Freshman Survey and College Senior Survey. To triangulate the quantitative data, seven phenomenological interviews were conducted in order to respond to the second research question. The researcher responded to the third research question through an integrative analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data. There are many connections between ethnicity/race related college activities and self-understanding development for Multiracial college students and for this study’s sample there were six statistically significant relationships. These relationships were with academic and social self-concept, sense of belonging, faculty interaction, gender and positive cross racial interactions. There were seven themes that emerged from the interviews of Multiracial students. They include the following conceptions: race vs. ethnicity, cross racial interactions, physical characteristics, culture, familial ties, the presences of racial tension on campus and self-understanding. For the Multiracial students in this study, race related activities or lack of engagement in race related activities were important because they helped them to solidify their Multiracial identity. Implications for policy, practice and recommendations for future research were also discussed. This study extends the research base about racial identity for Multiracial college students and provides insight into the essence of the recent Multiracial college experience.