Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Education


Teacher Education

First Advisor

Rosemary Oliphant-Ingham

Second Advisor

Lane Gauthier

Third Advisor

Stacey Britton

Relational Format



Increasing academic achievement among African Americans has become increasingly challenging for several educators. To receive aid in their pedagogical efforts, many of these teachers read qualitative literature and often discover success stories told by teachers and/or administrators. Qualitative research rarely includes African American students who share their own journey of academic achievement. To offer different insight that will specifically help high school educators increase ELA achievement among students of color, this qualitative study employed a phenomenographic approach to uncover how African American students in a Mississippi public high school perceived their experiences of meeting growth in English Language Arts (ELA). For three consecutive school years, the selected school has collectively demonstrated success on state assessments and has met growth in ELA, as measured by the Mississippi subject-area testing program 2 (satp2): English II. The primary participants from this school included three juniors and nine seniors. In an attempt to saturate the data and fact check, three ELA teachers who taught the juniors and/or seniors served as the secondary participants. Interviewing was the only data collection method employed, and data collected was utilized to depict the story of how African American students were able to make gains in ELA.

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