Using Narrative Inquiry to Investigate Persistence Challenges for African American Males in Education

Open Access
Wood, Michael C
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 23, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Edgar I. Farmer, Dissertation Advisor
  • Judith A. Kolb, Committee Chair
  • Edgar P. Yoder, Committee Member
  • Mark D. Threeton, Committee Member
  • N/A, Outside Member
  • African American Males
  • Anti Deficit Thinking
  • Persistence
  • Non-Cognitive Development
  • PWI's
  • HBCU's
  • Narrative Inquiry
Many of the socioeconomic barriers facing minority students begin with a lack of preparation or under-preparedness at the elementary and secondary levels. Statistically, 80% of White males, 65% of Hispanic males, and 59% of Black males in the 2012–2013 national high school cohort graduated on time (Schott 2012). Minorities lag behind their White counterparts from the time they enter elementary school—falling behind through high school and onto their enrollment in post-secondary institutions. A growing academic literature on education disparities reflects concerns about this trend, including in a recent issue of the American Behavioral Scientist (2013) and Littles, Bowers, and Gilmer’s (2007) Why We Can’t Wait—both are devoted to the topic of African American males in crisis in education. Existing socioeconomic data offer a bleak economic outlook for African American males. If no action is taken to remedy this disparity, large numbers of males will be left behind both socially and economically. In a commensurate fashion, however, post-secondary institutions may enable and continue to provide opportunities that allow students to ensure their long-term educational success. According to key indicators of academic achievement, educational attainment and school success, African-American males consistently cluster at the bottom of all rankings (Palmer, Wood, Dancy, & Strayhorn, 2014). Since post-secondary education is one focus of this study, I have ascertained how African American males matriculate and develop non-cognitive skills as well as deploy an anti-deficit achievement framework for them to succeed academically. Qualitative analyses were conducted on successful African American males attending Mid-Atlantic Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominately White Institutions (PWIs). As such, this study provides additional insight into the lived experiences of African American male collegians at HBCUs and PWI.