School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Vivian O. Jones


Achievement Gap, Heterogeneous Grouping, Tracking


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods


This explanatory case study explored the ways in which a heterogeneous grouping modulates academic performance for a group of Black students in an Honors Biology class at Bay City High School (BCHS), a large racially and socioeconomically diverse public high school in suburban Maryland. Data was collected through individual interviews, self-efficacy surveys, multiple observations of student on-task behaviors, student-to-student interactions, student-to-teacher interactions, and other task-related conditions. Seven students and their parents, current teachers, and former teachers provided the data. Thematic-coding of the data as outlined by Creswell (2014) was employed in conjunction with Yin's (2003) methods of analysis. In order to uncover students' experiences of the heterogeneous grouping, the following research questions guided the study: (a) How do Black students experience success or failure in the heterogeneous honors program? and (b) What effect, if any, has the heterogeneous honors program had on student self-efficacy? The findings suggested that academically capable yet underachieving minority students can and do improve as their beliefs changed. Findings revealed that students were less dispirited by difficulty and more inspired by their successes. In general, their self-efficacy increased from being in an environment where others were positive, perseverant, and proactive.