Date of Conferral







Katherine Emmons


Although more researchers have focused on academic deficits of male African American students, it is also important to understand the social factors that contribute to those who perform at a proficient level. Drawing on social capital theory as forwarded by Coleman and Putnam, this qualitative case study of 3 African American male high school students examined how their parent(s), teacher, mentor, peer or sibling, and pastor or community leader influenced the creation of social capital surrounding the students' academic achievement. Interview protocols and research interview instruments were developed and used to collect data from a total of 16 research participants, including the 3 students. Collection of the data was done through one-on-one, face-to-face interviews that were audio-recorded. The researcher transcribed the data and coded for analysis using intuitively derived categories. The primary finding of this study indicated that social capital positively influenced the 3 students' academic achievement. Themes acknowledged within the data were: (a) relationships, including family and community; (b) culture, including core norms and future goals; and (c) student attributes, which related to students' interests and characteristics as described by themselves. These findings may be relevant for designing education policies and practices for improving the academic performance and outcomes of African American male high school students, providing professional development for teachers to build meaningful relationships with students, improving cultural sensitivity, and creating supportive classrooms. Implications for social change include the need for a strong social support system that engenders high expectations for the students and holds students accountable for their academic success.