A Qualitative Phenomenological Study of African Americans and the Social and Economic Effects on Achievement

A Qualitative Phenomenological Study of African Americans and the Social and Economic Effects on Achievement

Author: 
Shanel D. Harris
Program of study: 
Ed.D.
Abstract: 
The African American Achievement Gap has remained virtually unchanged since 1965 despite decades of research and failed education reform efforts. The persistence of the achievement gap is detrimental to minority students and the United States economy. Through in-depth interviews, this qualitative phenomenological study explored the perspectives of 10 African Americans; five men and five women who have not attended college and either dropped out of high school or graduated from high school in California was explored to increase the understanding of factors that influenced their academic and career success. Participant perceptions, attitudes, and lived experiences were expressed in twelve major themes and five subthemes, which were demarcated between one of the two research questions. The major themes included: (1) low income played a role, (2) cultural or ethnic background differences led to different experiences, (3) hard family life led to school problems, (4) friends had a negative impact, (5) participant did not identify with school, (6) bullying and teasing interfered with schooling, (7) parents played a role (8) teachers played a role. Theme (7) parents played a role included three subthemes: parents did not emphasize education, parents emphasized getting an education, and parents did not emphasize college or a career. Theme (8) teachers played a role included two subthemes: teachers did not care and teachers cared. Researchers in future studies could use findings from this study to develop interventions to address the factors that hinder the academic achievement of minority students.
Dedication: 
I would like to dedicate this study to African Americans and other minorities in their pursuit of overcoming social and economic circumstances to attain the American dream. I also dedicate this study to my family, now you have a living example all things are possible with God!
Acknowledgements: 
I would like to thank God for giving me the faith and perseverance needed to complete this doctoral degree. Throughout most of this journey, I lacked an adequate support system, but God renewed my strength daily and continuously reminded me that with Him nothing is impossible. I thank God for allowing me to be a positive example for my family and other minorities. I thank my son, daughter, sister, and granddaughter for providing me with the motivation to complete my doctoral degree. To my mother who passed away in 2004, thank you for exposing me to a better life, which encouraged me to aspire above my circumstances to achieve. To my dad, I thank you for always believing in my ability to accomplish whatever I set my mind to. To my husband, I thank you for helping me pick up the pieces and put my life back together. To my dream team—my Dissertation Chair, Dr. Karen Johnson and my Committee Members Dr. Mary W. Stout and Dr. Michelle Susberry Hill, I could not have finished this journey without you. When I was stuck on the mountain, you all helped me find my way back and finish this journey. Last, but not least, to the University of Phoenix, I thank you for making it possible for a nontraditional student like me to earn a doctoral degree.