Rising out of the gap: Early adolescent black males and academic success

Eartha May Hackett, Fordham University


This phenomenological, qualitative study was conducted to examine the educational experiences of 14 high-achieving, eighth-grade, Black males in three inner city middle schools. Participant selection was based on state test scores, GPA and SES. Based on a social constructivist research paradigm, this student based inquiry examined individual and contextual factors that influence the educational experiences of early adolescent Black males. A semi-structured interview and classroom observation were used to collect data. The analysis resulted in six overall themes and twenty two subthemes. These include participants’ views on Black male education, individual factors such as self-regulation as well as contextual factors such as parental involvement, and teacher-student relationships. Potential challenges related to factors such as personal and family challenges, as well as negative school experiences. Though concerns about barriers such as stereotype threat and damaging media messages arose, participants used these negative expectations as motivation. Competition as motivation and differences in racial-ethnic socialization among immigrant and non-immigrant families emerged as areas that warrant further research. Limitations were related to geographical location and one researcher conducting the study which increased the possibility of researcher bias due to lack of cross-referencing. Keywords: achievement gap, adolescent, Black males, academic achievement, phenomenology

Subject Area

Black studies|Middle School education|Social psychology|Multicultural Education|Counseling Psychology|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Hackett, Eartha May, "Rising out of the gap: Early adolescent black males and academic success" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3722195.