Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Little Boys Lost: An Ethnographic Study of At-Risk African American Youth
by Oliver Longworth, Lisa, Ph.D., Notre Dame of Maryland University, 2012, 205; 3506233
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this ethnographic study was to describe and examine the shared perspectives, beliefs and behaviors of a group of African American high school students who were transitioned from an alternative learning center (ALC) for 50 students with behavior issues into mainstream, regular high school settings of approximately 1,600 students. Ethnographic methods were used to collect data through semi-structured, one-on-one interviews with 12 participants, as well as a focus group discussion with five participants. Additionally, eight participants provided artistic representations of their school experiences. Guiding questions focused on 1) What successes and challenges do the participants experience in the traditional school setting? 2) What is the school experience like for the participants as African American males and how do these students relate to White teachers? 3) What can schools and teachers do differently to reach and to teach these students, including making personal connections to students to encourage and assist them to continue in school and graduate? 4) What factors encouraged continued school attendance despite removal from the alternative setting? 5) What are the differences between the students who decided to remain in school and those who decided to drop out?

Data were analyzed and categorized into themes. Results of these findings revealed a pattern of learned helplessness and academic disengagement among the participants. Their academic disengagement was in response to their perceptions of teachers’ attitudes and beliefs. Positive relationships with teachers and parental involvement were key factors influencing students’ decisions to drop out or continue in school. Suggestions for teacher professional development are offered, the most important being an understanding of the unique needs and perspectives of African American males.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Snyder, Angela
Commitee: Brown, Sharon, Sattler, Joan
School: Notre Dame of Maryland University
Department: Department of Education
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Black studies, Cultural anthropology, Secondary education, Individual & family studies
Keywords: African American males, At risk, At-risk youth, Boys, Ethnography
Publication Number: 3506233
ISBN: 9781267316080
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