Date of Award


Degree Type



Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Hampton, Fred

Subject Headings

African Americans -- Education, Children of single parents -- Education, Academic achievement, Resilience (Personality trait) in children, Achievement gap, Middle school boys, Resiliency


While our nation claims that we provide "equal learning opportunities" for all, the Black-White achievement gap still exists. This leads to a variety of political, economic, and social ramifications for our students. With this said, seldom are studies conducted that disprove the countless theories that explain why African-American students are at-risk for academic success. As an attempt to determine environmental factors that contribute to the achievement gap between African-American and Caucasian students, it is important to gain a greater understanding of how academically successful African-American students have managed to translate their struggles and experiences of oppression into academic success (Griffin & Allen, 2006). Resiliency and risk have been studied for more than 40 years. Many African-American students succeed in school despite living in single-parent, impoverished families. Some African-American students from this background successfully emerge from high risk environments, coping and overcoming dire circumstances (Floyd, 1997). Children living in single-parent families (particularly those mother-headed) are at a greater risk for negative outcomes than those in two-headed families (Brody & Murry, 1999). In this study, the experiences of 13 academically successful sixth through eighth grade African-American boys living in single parent, impoverished homes in an urban school district in the Midwest were explored. Through demographic questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, the self-reported factors as contributing to the students' academic success were identified. Th e answers to the following research question were explored: What experiences (at home, in their peer community, and at school) do academically successful African-American middle-school boys living in single parent, impoverished homes report as contributing to their academic success? In this qualitative study, the students reported a number of factors as contributing to their academic success. Grounded theory and the constant c

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