Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Dr. Unseld Robinson

Abstract

A large number of African American students attending a low performing, urban high school in Tennessee demonstrated a lack of understanding in reading/language arts by scoring below proficient on the end of course (EOC) exam in reading/language arts. The purpose of this case study was to examine the perceptions of 10 African American graduates who scored proficient on the reading/language arts EOC exam to seek factors they associated with their academic success. This study was guided by Deci and Ryan's self-determination theory. The research question addressed the perceived factors that African American graduates associated with their academic success. Purposeful sampling was used to select 10 African American graduates who scored proficient on the EOC reading/language arts exam and who were 18 years or older. The data were collected through one-on-one interviews and were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The data revealed that all the participants had a positive adult figure who motivated and encouraged them to continue to succeed. Based on the research findings, a project on mentoring was developed. Implementation of a professional development workshop on mentoring could bring about a positive social change for more African American students because the project provides a mentor for more African American students at this high school, which may lead to more African American students improving their academic success.