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Listening to the voices of inner city, low -income, 12th grade, Black males: A phenomenological study of their educational experiences

Christopher A Lester, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions held by inner city, low-income, 12th grade, Black males of their educational experiences. The study was conducted using a qualitative, phenomenological in-depth interview methodology. The study sample consisted of 9 inner city, low-income Black males from 5 different high schools in Western Massachusetts. Data was collected using audiotape and field notes. There were nine major themes that emerged from the study data. These themes were labeling; differential racial treatment; importance of teachers who care; connection with Black teachers; family influences; the degree of motivation; the role of anger and conflict; the role of sports; and the influence of Black male role models. Key findings from this study suggest that Black males are motivated to achieve academically when specific factors are in place including parents who demonstrate positive, consistent, interaction and feedback promoting academic engagement; school personnel that demonstrate an ability to relate to cultural, racial and community backgrounds of students, school personnel that demonstrate a capacity to care and support the personal and academic needs of Black males; and self directed academic behaviors and positive peer influences that motivated participants towards higher academic levels and high school graduation. Other findings identified were specific obstacles and supports for the participants' academic achievement. These include factors such as family influences and lack of positive male role models. Additionally, racism, racial labeling and racial double standards in schools fostered hostile educational environments that negatively affected the participants' opportunities for academic success and resulted in a decrease in academic motivation and lower academic achievement levels. The results of this study will provide a resource to parents, educators, policymakers, researchers, and populations with similar demographics who seek an increased understanding of the factors affecting the academic achievement of inner city, low-income, 12th grade, Black males.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Elementary education|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|African Americans

Recommended Citation

Lester, Christopher A, "Listening to the voices of inner city, low -income, 12th grade, Black males: A phenomenological study of their educational experiences" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3136751.