Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Shelly Arneson


African American male students (AAMSs) can benefit from literacy instruction that is student-based and geared towards using higher-level thinking skills. The conceptual framework was guided by Dewey's constructivism theory, the purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore whether high school English language arts (ELA) teachers in an urban-suburban Midwest region of the United States have sufficient knowledge and skills to incorporate higher order thinking skills (HOT) instruction for AAMSs. Five ELA teachers from a low-performing, urban-suburban high school in the Midwest region of the United States participated in semistructured interviews; observations were conducted in the classroom, and lesson plans were reviewed. Patterns, categories, and themes emerged through using the coding process by breaking down the data into units and then grouped according to their characteristics. According to the findings, participants from this study suggested that problem- solving was the main higher level thinking skill for AAMSs. These local ELA teachers also used the Socratic questioning method as their primary instructional strategy but limited constructivist activities for AAMSs to engage during the instructional process. The findings from the data collection support the development of a professional training program. The professional development program could help teachers engage AAMSs in increasing their academic endeavors. ELA teachers can participate in professional learning communities by communicating concerns about AAMSs, using HOT skills to increase AAMSs literacy performance, become change agents, and promote a positive social change by using constructivist practices into school curriculum and instructions for AAMSs, eventually closing the achievement gap.