An exploration of how teachers’ attitudes and beliefs about their Africans American students’ academic abilities influence their choice of pedagogy : a descriptive multiple-case study.

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May 2023

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The achievement gap between African American students is growing larger compared to other racial groups. Despite being cognizant of the alarming African American learning gap, there continues to be minimal research that explains and determines the impact of the classroom teacher. Moreover, as Black children continue to underperform on standardized assessments, educators and researchers seek answers regarding how to improve student academic outcomes. Unfortunately, due to the long history of negative educational performance of African American students, dropout and prison rates continue to increase. Additionally, many Black children qualify for special education programs that place them in classrooms with poor-quality teachers. As a result, these children become perceived with negative teacher stereotypes, attitudes, and beliefs, requiring a shift to establishing positive student relationships and utilizing culturally relevant pedagogical practices. Teachers who comprehensively understand African American students’ social, emotional, and educational needs will help them achieve higher academic achievement.

This study provides an example of how teachers’ attitudes and beliefs about their African American students’ abilities influence their choice of pedagogy in the classroom. This descriptive multiple-case study highlights Houston Independent School District teachers’ experiences teaching African American students in Southeast urban communities. This study also informs past, current, and future educators on the importance that a teacher’s attitude, beliefs, and pedagogy plays in the educational success of Black scholars. I conducted one semi-structured interview with each HISD teacher participant. This study builds upon self-efficacy and stereotype threat theories to understand how teachers’ attitudes and beliefs about their African American students’ abilities influence their choice of pedagogy in the classroom. Results from this study displayed that building positive student relationships and removing negative stereotypes are all vital factors in increasing the academic achievement of African American students. Moreover, these findings clarify the implementation of non-biased instructional practices that empower Black students to achieve positive academic achievement.

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