Erik Hines, Assistant Professor in the Counseling and Educational Development department in the UNCG School of Education, discusses some of the frequent stressors faced by college students, as well as his research on the academic success of African American males in grades K-16.
1). What led you to pursue a career in counseling?
I knew when I was 19; I wanted to become a school counselor. At that time, I loved working with K-12 students and helping young adults reach their potential and figure out how to deal with life issues. As a result, I knew the field of school counseling was profession for me so I mapped out my educational plan to achieve this goal. During my master’s program, I developed a passion for solving problems around the gaps in academic achievement for African Americans and how parents can help close them. Consequently, I pursued a degree in counselor education to learn how to solve this problem through research.
2). You have several publications under review regarding parental involvement on students and its impact on the student’s academic achievement – could you talk a little about what your research has uncovered on this subject?
In my publications, I have found that parental involvement is impactful in the lives of African Americans, especially males. In my recent publication entitled, “Parental Characteristics, Ecological Factors, and Academic Achievement of African American Males”, my colleague. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy and I found that father presence is a significant predictor of academic performance of African American males. Specifically, the educational level of fathers and two parent homes can influence the grade point average of Black males. In another research study, my colleagues (DiAnne Borders and Laura Gonzalez) and I interviewed three African American males who graduated college and found that their parents had a significant influence (both positively and negatively) in their decision to attend and complete college. Although there is plenty of research literature on the role of parental involvement and academic success, it is important to note that more research is needed on how school counselors and educators can incorporate parents into the educational process of African American students.
3). You have served as a counselor in a college setting – what are some of the frequent stressors that current college students face in their daily lives?
As an academic counselor for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, I worked to assist first generation undergraduate college students to aspire and attend graduate school with the goal of getting a doctorate degree. In my experience, I noticed two stressors plaguing my students at that time-financial issues to continue their education and having the social capital to navigate the college process (i.e., mentors, individuals who could help them if they encountered problems). Additionally, I believe this is true for most minority and first generation college students. As an academic counselor, I ensured my students knew the resources available to them on campus and we provided them with faculty mentors who assisted them in conducting research as well as providing support in navigating the academic side of attending college. Moreover, I provided the social/emotional and career development (helping them get to graduate school) pieces so that my students had a well-balanced approach to completing their undergraduate studies.
4). One of your key research interests is in the academic success of African American males in grades K-16. Could you please talk about your research in this area?
My research agenda revolves around looking at contextual variables, which help African American males achieve academically as well as attend and complete college. The research literature tell us they are less likely to be enrolled in Advanced Placement, honors, or other rigorous college preparation courses which leads to various types of barriers preventing them from attending college. In addition, a lot of the research on African American males focus on a deficit perspective (i.e., risky behavior, low academic performance) rather than look them from a strengths-based approach. Currently, I have complete two research studies focusing on what African American males have done to get into as well as complete college. As I mentioned earlier, I found parents were a significant influence in their decisions to attend college. Further, I also found that having a purpose and giving back to their communities positively impacted their decision to go to and finish college. I want to use these strengths-based variables in the K-12 settings to assist African American males to be college-ready.
5). What do you enjoy most about teaching in the Counseling and Educational Development department in the UNCG School of Education?
I enjoy teaching/helping our graduate students become better counselors. With my pre-service school counselors, I love the discussions we have around trending topics in education and how it will impact their role as a professional. Also, the mentoring aspect appeals to me as I get to help mold and influence graduate students in a way that helps them maximize their educational experience in the department to ultimately be GREAT counselors.