|dc.description.abstract||Most research on African American students has explored the causes and consequences of academic failure. This fixation on negative outcomes has perpetuated deficit views of African American student achievement. Consequently, far less is known about the successful academic outcomes of African American students, generally, and those from single-mother homes, specifically. The purpose of this study was to explore academic success as perceived and experienced by African American high school students and their single mothers.
This qualitative study utilized a narrative inquiry approach that used in-depth, semi-structured interviews for data collection. The sample of seven African American high school seniors (four girls, three boys) and their single mothers were selected using purposeful sampling methods. Four research questions guided this study: (1) How do African American students and their single mothers understand and explain the protective factors and underlying processes contributing to academic success? (2) What do African American students and their single mothers report as potential barriers (risk factors) to academic success? (3) How has family structure influenced the academic success of African American high school students from single-mother homes? and (4) In what ways can existing and/or future social structures help support and facilitate academic success for African American students from single-mother households?
Data analysis occurred in two stages. The first stage, narrative analysis, used poetic transcription techniques to create found poems for each of the individual participants. The second stage, analysis of narratives, identified themes across participants’ narratives. Data analysis revealed protective factors contributing to success included students’ inherent drive toward success, a deeply invested mother, and assistance from social-relational supports. The potential barriers to academic success were described as “challenges of the streets,” and the responsibilities associated with single parenting. The influence of family structure on academic success involved students being motivated to “go harder” and mothers acting strategically. Lastly, findings related to how social structures can support the academic success of Black students from single mother homes included participants’ expressing the need for “a community that has our back” and a recognition of their success. Recommendations for practice and future research are included.||