School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Tamika Hibbert


African American Males, Black Males, Academic Achievement, Academic Achievement Gap, Opportunity Gap, School to Prison Pipeline




The purpose of the proposed hermeneutic phenomenological study was to explore the perceptions and lived experiences of African American males, who formerly attended urban high schools, concerning their academic achievement in North Carolina. The theory guiding this study is the social equity theory (SET) as it describes the lens to view the racial-ethnic academic achievement gaps and explains what occurs when multiple factors create group differences in school readiness and achievement. The research methodology used in this study was the qualitative phenomenological method. A questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, and a focus group were used to gather data on the participants' perspectives and lived experiences. The semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews both were recorded and transcribed. Participants indicated that classroom experiences impacted their academic achievement both positively and negatively experiences in the classroom. Participants shared that because they were African American males the expectations for them to be academically successful was lower than that of their White peers. Participants expressed the relationships they forged with school staff, friends, and family as beneficial to their school experiences. Participants acknowledged that their experiences outside of the classroom impacted their academic achievement. Participants also acknowledged academic achievement was not only impacted in the school building but outside of school as well.

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