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ERIC Number: ED527659
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 287
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1094-6785-7
"Ignored Burden": Perceptions of Racism in School Contexts and Academic Engagement among African-American Adolescents
Scott, Allison Lindsay
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
African-American students in K-12 education experience pervasive disparities in academic outcomes across all areas of the schooling experience. Though racial disparities in education have been widely acknowledged, research must move beyond critiques of individual and student factors to analyze the educational structures and practices that create racial inequity and affect the school experiences of African-American students. Conceptualizing racism as endemic in school contexts and manifested in disparities in funding and teaching quality, school curriculum, ability tracking, disciplinary proceedings, peer interactions, and teacher-student interactions, this mixed-methods investigation examined: (a) the extent to which African-American students perceive manifestations of racism in school contexts, (b) the impact of perceptions of racism on academic engagement, and (c) the potential moderating effects of individual and school characteristics. A demographically diverse sample of N=131 African-American high school students from the San Francisco Bay Area participated in the current research. Using a quantitative survey instrument and qualitative semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and student writings, findings converged to reveal that African-American students were acutely aware of racial inequality across the school context, and were highly perceptive of racism in interpersonal interactions with teachers and peers, classroom and school practices that marginalize African-American students, and structural inequalities and disparities. Student perceptions of racism within the schooling context were negatively associated with psychological and behavioral engagement and interest in academic endeavors. Specifically, perceived racism in teaching and curriculum significantly predicted psychological and behavioral disengagement. In addition, students indicated that perceptions of racism had a negative impact on socio-emotional factors that can be indirectly associated with academic performance, including self-esteem, motivation, internalization of racial stereotypes, and externalizing behaviors. These findings reveal complex information about person-environment interactions in school contexts for African-American students, where the school environment is saturated with racial inequality, students are highly perceptive of racial inequalities, and psychological withdrawal of effort, behavioral disengagement from the academic process, and negative socio-emotional outcomes occur. This research has specific implications for education policy, reform of inequitable school practices, the development of school support programs, culturally responsive and relevant curriculum development, and the preparation of future teachers. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California