Date of Conferral







Bonnie B. Mullinix


For African American high school students, caring relationships extend beyond peer

interaction to include supporting adults, most particularly teachers, who are pivotal to

their educational experience and success or lack of success. The research problem

centered on the lack of diversity and authentic voice when discussing caring teacher-student relationships. Markedly, the voices of African American high school students

were lacking from the current body of research literature. The purpose of this narrative

qualitative study was threefold: (a) to capture the voices of African American high school

students’ as they shared their experience(s) about a caring teacher; (b) to capture the

voices of their supporting adults, administrator, parent/guardian, and teacher; and (c) to

analyze their responses to ascertain what defined a caring teacher for these persons. The

conceptual framework was Noddings’ ethics of care theory and served as the nexus for

the central research question. A purposive sample of 5 students and 10 adult participants

contributed their stories through semistructured interviews. The methodological approach

was narrative inquiry, and portraiture was the style used to report the stories. Data

analysis used thematic coding and triangulation across participants and groups. The initial

findings and cross-group interpretive analysis showed that what defined a caring teacher

for African American students was similar for their supporting adults. The implications

for social change include legitimating African American high school students’ voices;

improving teacher-student caring relationships and educational experiences, leading to

overall academic success; recommendations for including care and cultural training for

preservice and practicing educators; and policy reform.