School of Education
Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)
African American, Urban, Education, Student Engagement, Self-determination, Leadership
Education | Educational Leadership
Butts, Sohn A., "A Phenomenological Study of the Student Engagement Experiences of African Americans Formerly Attending Urban Public High Schools" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3502.
The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to interpret the student engagement experiences of African Americans formerly attending urban public high schools in a major city in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Self-determination theory, established by Ryan and Deci (1985), is the theoretical framework for this study, and was used to understand motivation in terms of basic psychological needs satisfaction and fulfillment, and how those motivations influence human behavior. The central research question was: What were the student engagement experiences of African Americans formerly attending urban public high schools? The three research sub-questions were: (1) what instructional experiences did African Americans attribute to their student engagement experiences, (2) what interpersonal experiences did African Americans attribute to their student engagement experiences, and (3) what environmental experiences did African Americans attribute to their student engagement experiences? Qualitative questionnaires, focus groups, and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from 12 participants selected using homogenous and snowball sampling. Data analysis was conducted using van Manes’ approach (1990) of reflecting on significant participant statements, developing thematic meaning units, and constructing textual and structural written descriptions of student engagement, concluding with a written composite interpretation of the lived experiences of the participants. The essential themes identified in the study were Engagement Experiences, Instructional Considerations, Relationships, School-Related Experiences, and Non-School-Related Factors. Participants identified the satisfaction of psychological need as the cornerstone of student engagement and as essential factor in mitigating student disengagement.