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EFFECTIVE PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICES FOR TEACHING AFRICAN
AMERICAN STUDENTS IN A K-8 URBAN CHARTER SCHOOL
Patricia Ann Garrity
B.A., Boston College, Chestnut Hill, 2004
THESIS
Submitted in partial satisfaction of
the requirements for the degree of
MASTER OF ARTS
in
EDUCATION
(Multicultural Education)
at
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SACRAMENTO
FALL
2009
© 2009
Patricia Ann Garrity
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
ii
EFFECTIVE PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICES FOR TEACHING AFRICAN
AMERICAN STUDENTS IN A K-8 URBAN CHARTER SCHOOL
A Thesis
by
Patricia Ann Garrity
Approved by:
__________________________________, Committee Chair
Dr. Forrest Davis
__________________________________, Second Reader
Dr. Lisa William-White
_____________________________
Date
iii
Student: Patricia Ann Garrity
I certify that this student has met the requirements for format contained in the University
format manual, and that this thesis is suitable for shelving in the Library and credit is to
be awarded for the thesis.
__________________________________
Dr. Albert Lozano, Graduate Coordinator
___________________
Date
Department of Education
iv
Abstract
of
EFFECTIVE PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICES FOR TEACHING AFRICAN
AMERICAN STUDENTS IN A K-8 URBAN CHARTER SCHOOL
by
Patricia Garrity
Current research on educational achievement in the United States shows that
African American students in urban areas are performing well below their White
counterparts (Lewis, James, Hancock, & Hill-Jackson, 2008). However, studies have
been conducted that point to teacher effectiveness (Howard, 2001), culturally relevant
pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995), and culturally responsive teaching (Foster & Peele,
2001) as effective ways to close this achievement gap between Black and White students.
Based on the theoretical frames that support a reformed Afrocentric pedagogy
(Ginwright, 2004) and culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995) the present
study explores potential ways to help struggling African American students and improve
the existing academic condition of elementary and middle school-aged African American
students attending school in low-income, urban areas. The study was conducted in the
form of action research (Mertler, 2007) at the predominantly African American urban
v
charter school where the researcher teaches. The research study also employed
qualitative research methods, such as an open-ended survey and a focus group. The
methods asked students, parents, and teachers invested in the urban charter school to
reflect on their educational experiences and challenges, and describe practices that help to
best educate the students at the school. Results from the survey and focus group
revealed that parents, teachers, and students faced many of the same educational
challenges (where the students were concerned), including a lack of focus, and difficulty
understanding and retaining information. The three subgroups also overlapped responses
where best practices were concerned, and these included, but were not limited to, one-on
one teaching, the use of song, visuals, and other stimulating activities, and the workshop
or small group model. Supported by the responses from the open-ended survey and focus
group, as well as standardized test data from the charter school, a positive relationship
between the practices discussed and the academic achievement of African American
students at the urban charter school exists, and should continue to be explored.
__________________________________________ Committee Chair
Dr. Forrest Davis
vi
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This research study was conducted to focus on the effective pedagogical practices used to
successfully educate African American students at the charter school at which I have
taught for five years. I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the individuals
(parents, teachers, and students) who participated in the open-ended surveys and focus
group for candidly sharing their thoughts on the educational challenges facing our
students and the ways that we can work to educate them. Additionally, I would like to
thank my principal for constantly providing feedback, encouragement, and support while
I was writing my thesis and teaching full-time, and my professors at CSU, Sacramento,
for guiding me along through the Master’s program. More importantly, I would like to
thank my incredible network of support, which includes the friends with whom I enter the
trenches daily, my parents (who served as editors, cheerleaders, and financial supporters),
and my devoted fiancé, who, for the last eighteen months, has dealt with the range of
emotions that have accompanied me in this process, and loved me anyways. Last, but
certainly not least, I dedicate these pages of research to my students, past and present,
who constantly challenge me to reach new levels, help me to understand their world, and
teach me in the ways that I need to be taught. To the members of the Classes of 2017,
2018 and 2023: thank you for showing me how to be a better teacher and person. And to
the members of the Class of 2019: thank you for changing my life during your sixth grade
year.
vii
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................................................................................ vii
List of Tables .......................................................................................................................x
Chapter
1
INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................1
Background .................................................................................................................1
Statement of the Problem ............................................................................................3
Theoretical Framework ...............................................................................................6
Limitations of the Study............................................................................................10
Definition of Terms...................................................................................................12
Significance and Organization of the Study .............................................................14
2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ..........................................................................17
Background ...............................................................................................................17
The Achievement Gap Between African American Students and Their White
Counterparts ..............................................................................................................18
Defying the Achievement Gap: Resilience Strategies That Work...........................22
Teacher Effectiveness and Relevant Pedagogical Practices as a Means for
Academic Success Among African American Students ...........................................31
Creating Relationships ..............................................................................................31
viii
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy ..................................................................................33
Culturally Responsive Teaching ...............................................................................38
3
METHODOLOGY ...................................................................................................45
Research Design: Qualitative Analysis .....................................................................47
Setting .......................................................................................................................50
Population Sample ....................................................................................................53
Questionnaires...........................................................................................................53
Focus Group ..............................................................................................................54
Data Collection .........................................................................................................57
Data Analysis Procedures .........................................................................................58
4
DATA ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS .....................................................................61
Results of the Open-Ended Survey ...........................................................................61
Results of the Focus Group .......................................................................................94
Findings and Discussion .........................................................................................109
5
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................113
Conclusions and Recommendations .......................................................................113
Appendix .........................................................................................................................53
References .........................................................................................................................53
ix
LIST OF TABLES
Page
1.
Table 1 Open-Ended Survey Questions for Parents ......................................119
2.
Table 2 Open-Ended Survey Questions for Teachers ....................................120
3.
Table 3 Open-Ended Survey Questions for Students ....................................121
4.
Table 4 School Experience, Open-Ended Survey Data .................................122
5.
Table 5 Challenges, Open-Ended Survey Data..............................................123
6.
Table 6 Learning Strategies That Work, Open-Ended Survey Data ..............124
7.
Table 7 Focus Group Questions for Parents and Teachers ............................126
8.
Table 8 Focus Group Questions for Students ................................................127
x
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