Academically achieving black adolescent students' perceptions of how self, family, and school impact their achievement
Long, Linda Ann
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The purpose of this study was to examine academically achieving Black student’s perceptions and perspectives about their education and school achievement. Overall, the research was concerned with how these students described their potential to achieve in relation to their self-perceptions of ability and how they view that family, teachers, and peers impact their achievement in school. Using an ethnographic research approach, data were collected using semistructured interviews, which were audio taped, and transcribed. Each participant was interviewed in two to three meetings lasting 60 to 90 minutes. The purposeful sample consisted of three males and three females between the ages of 16 and 18, from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. The constant comparative method was used to analyze the data. Findings indicated that the achieving Black adolescent students attributed their achievement to their sense of self, family support, and school experiences. Themes for self included need to achieve, belief in self, self as unique, self as leader, setting goals, developing future visions, and learning and academic strategies. Themes for family included modeling achievement values, encouragement and support, and monitoring and supporting achievement performance. The influence of school on achievement was examined by gathering information about participants’ experiences with teachers, relationships with peers, and classroom environments. Themes related to participants’ experiences with teachers included positive relationships with teachers, teachers’ high expectations, teachers’ recognition of their academic potential and their genuine care for them and their achievement. Themes concerned with peer relationships included interpersonal skills with peers, flexibility in peer relationships, negotiating issues with peers, and peers as learning and academic resources. Themes for classroom structure and environment included action-oriented learning activities, learning through dialogue and discussion, and learning in a challenging environment. Recommendations for parents, teachers, and counselors working with Black adolescent students are provided, and implications for future research concerning this population of students are included.
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