Perceptions of Teaching African American Students Who Succeed During Science Testing: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study

Perceptions of Teaching African American Students Who Succeed During Science Testing: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study

Author: 
Tevis Tramaine Harris
Program of study: 
Ed.D./CI
Abstract: 
The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological research was to explore the perceptions of teachers as they instruct African American students who are successful on the North Carolina End-of-Grade Science test. The study identified thoughts, feelings, emotions, and challenges that teachers faced when instructing successful African American students from Title I schools in rural community classrooms. The research study analysis utilized NVivo10® software and identified common themes in the data. Five themes emerged from interviews with five fifth- and eighth-grade science teachers. Based on the teachers’ perceptions, the findings revealed: (a) teachers experience an emotional journey in high poverty schools; (b) investments encompass sacrificing whatever is needed to help students become successful; (c) relationships should be developed between the teacher and student; (d) intentionality is a part of teachers’ daily interaction with students; and (e) teachers encounter a challenging opportunity instructing African American students in science. This study provides valuable data in understanding the experiences of teachers as they instruct successful African American students and the challenges, obstacles, and triumphs teachers face when working with this population of students. The implications of the study suggest that educational leaders provide emotional support to help teachers manage the plethora of emotions experienced on a daily basis. Future study of successful teachers of African American students may further inform the dearth of literature surrounding the experience of successful teachers of minority students.
Dedication: 
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord.” Psalms 27:13, New International Version This work is dedicated to my daughter, Carsen Olivia Harris. I am more than blessed beyond measure and forever grateful to God to witness and experience inexplicable love in the form of you. All of this was for you. And to my mother, Gwendolyn Annette Harris, I have always wanted to show you that I could and would become a great somebody!
Acknowledgements: 
Lord you have been so gracious and kind to me that I pledge my life to you. I owe you and I give back to you all that you have given me. You have been strength like no other. Lord, thank you. Grandma Jack, I miss you so much. I often wonder what you are doing up there. One day I will get to see you again. To the love of my life and my very best friend, Dr. Janee’ Avent: Words cannot describe the love I have for you. Thank you for the many nights of encouragement and the unconditional love you have shown me. Who has their dissertation completed? Me!!! To the Harris family: Always remember, “We All We Got!” To my friends, Jannotta (soon to be Dr.), Wray, Dr. Kelli Byrd, Cynthia, James and Benita, Ron and Tot, Ma Pearl, Sherlen, Nikki, Saunta, Audrey, Nicole, Kendrick, Luretta, Tiont and Jeanae, Darius, Keyana, Renee, and Mike Jesus: I appreciate all of the encouragement and love you have given me over the years. To all of my other friends who prayed for me, I thank you. To my God children, Je’Daei, Jaylah, and Ayden, I love you so much. I have enjoyed watching you grow and learn. I cannot wait to see what you will become. Even when you get old, we are still going to hang out! I know that I get on your nerves sometimes, but I want you to know that I believe in you. To my committee: Dr. Taylor, you have been my motivator and spiritual mother over the last year and a half. I cannot thank you enough for accepting my request to be my chair. We have grown together. Please forgive me for the late night calls. Dr. Scott, you encouraged me during class and then you accepted my offer to be on my committee. Thank You! Dr. Roseboro, you were a life-saver. I thank God that I found you and I appreciate the feedback you offered throughout this process. To all of you, I am grateful that I went on this journey with you. To Pastor James D. Gailliard: Thank you for your encouragement, support, and understanding during this process. I am excited about working alongside you in ministry. You have helped me grow on so many levels. Thank You! To Dr. Kimberly Walston: What can I say? Thanks for your help and support whenever I called for clarity. Finally, to my Baskerville, Jones, Beddingfield, and Cedar Grove families, you totally rock! Thank you for pushing me to be the best me and for allowing me to lead you.