Improving student achievement and self-efficacy of African-American male middle school students through a school-based mentoring program
Toney, Jennifer Lashelle McGinnis
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The purpose of this study was to investigate how social learning theory and mentoring enhance the achievement of African-American male middle school students. The following research questions framed this study: In what ways might participation in the Constructivist Middle School mentoring program benefit underachieving African-American males? The following related questions guided the study: 1. How does the mentoring program affect the impact of academic, structural, and personal barriers on students’ academic proficiency? 2. How does an action research process help key stakeholders make meaning of social learning theory, mentoring, and enhancing achievement among African-American males? The findings from this study indicate that the middle school students and mentors who participated in this action research felt the CMS Mentoring Program positively affected the academic, structural, and personal barriers of the students. Survey and interview methods were applied to help determine if the young men’s participation in the program impacted their academic performance in middle school. Precisely, when answering the questions related to this particular area of the study, the participants overwhelmingly acknowledged the benefits of the mentoring experience on their middle school academics and behavior. Social learning theory was the theoretical framework that guided this study. This theory has evolved to suggest that if there is a close identification between the observer and the model and if the observer has a good deal of self-efficacy learning will most likely occur (Bandura, 1989). This study sought to answer how an action research process helps key stakeholders make meaning of social learning theory, mentoring, and enhancing achievement among African-American males. The official academic mentorship model that was developed included training mentors, identifying mentor requirements, and developing and implementing survey instruments to answer this question. The findings indicate critical to the success of a mentoring program is recognizing the importance of building positive relationships with group members through a show of commitment, clearly defined boundaries with consequences, and a willingness to listen to feedback from program participants (Bailey, 2005). The results of this study supported previous research and revealed that a mentoring program positively impacted the young men who participated in the program academically and behaviorally.