Date of Award


Degree Type



Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Goodell, Joanne

Subject Headings

Education, Urban -- United States, Teacher effectiveness, Teacher-student relationships -- United States, African American students -- Education (Secondary), Urban education, African American


This qualitative research study describes how one person, a successful European American teacher of African American students in an urban high school, can have a major impact on the educational outcomes of his students. Using ethnographic methodologies, the researcher conducted observations and interviews with successful teachers. The construction of ideas and patterns, which teachers have formed from their own experiences in successfully working with African American students, were brought to light. Personal characteristics identified in the study included items such as having high expectations, building relationships, caring about students and possessing a sense of humor. In addition, the beliefs that influence teaching practices which allow them to be labeled as "successful" were identified and included having a shared philosophy regarding teaching, classroom procedures and students obtaining mastery of material taught. An unanticipated third finding also emerged, that of cultural sensitivity. It is the belief of the researcher that simply possessing the aforementioned personal characteristics and teaching practices is not enough. The dimension of cultural sensitivity seems to be the key component of successful European American teachers of African American students in urban high schools

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