Date of Award

12-9-2009

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Miles A. Irving - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Ann C. Kruger - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Jonathan Gayles - Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Joyce King - Committee Member

Fifth Advisor

Layli Phillips - Committee Member

Abstract

Parental behaviors and socialization practices are among the most cited micro-level factors related to adolescents‘ performance in school. For African American youth, families provide the foundation for negotiating their identities and learning ―how to go to school‖ in a racist and sexist society (Hill, 2002; Jeynes, 2005). Yet, a sparse amount of research has examined familial factors that shape African American girls‘ identity development and academic outcomes. This mixed method study examined how racial socialization, ethnic socialization and parental involvement influence African American adolescent girls‘ multiple identities and academic performance. Participants included African American girls (N=106) between the ages of 11 and 14. Data were collected using a questionnaire and focus group interviews. The questionnaire included racial identity, gender identity, racial socialization, ethnic socialization, and parental involvement scales. Student grades were retrieved from schools administrators. Stepwise regression analysis was employed to examine the associations among familial socialization and involvement, identity factors and academic performance. Socialization messages regarding African American history, and coping with racial discrimination were negatively related to African American girls‘ academic performance. Socialization messages regarding African American cultural values were positively related to African American girls‘ academic performance. African American girls who were frequently exposed to African American cultural expressions, taught the African American value system, and taught strategies for dealing with racial discrimination were highly aware of how others view African Americans, had positive feelings about being Black, and their blackness was central to their identity. Gender identity exploration was linked to transmission of African American values and celebrating African American heritage. Gender belongingness/affirmation was predicted by messages about African American history. Six focus group interviews were conducted with girls (n=45) randomly selected from the larger sample. Participant answered questions about their feelings about their gender and racial groups, preparation for womanhood, and parental messages about academic achievement. A modified ground theory of data analysis was used to examine the focus group data. Four themes emerged from focus groups: (1) the importance of race and gender, (2) socialization for black womanhood, (3) avoiding a legacy of school failure, and (4) using education as a tool for personal advancement.

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