Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Teacher Leadership for Learning

First Advisor

Dr. Joya Carter-Hicks

Second Advisor

Dr. Corrie Davis

Third Advisor

Dr. Deborah S. Wallace


African American boys bring unique characteristics and experiences into American classrooms. Recognizing the inherent strengths and qualities of these characteristics has eluded educators for decades, leading to misguided special education referrals, increased discipline challenges and dropout rates (Davis, 2003; Delpit, 2012; Kunjufu, 2005a; Kunjufu, 2005b; Kunjufu, 2011; Langhout & Mitchell, 2008). Limited research examines the perceptions of African American boys in an attempt to inform and transform teaching practices. This qualitative case study investigates fifth grade African American boys’ perceptions on how successful they feel in school, their experiences of being in gender-based classrooms, and the influence of teaching practices on their success in school. Data from student interviews and focus groups, student journals, classroom observations, and teacher questionnaires, suggests (1) boys perceive their success in school is dependent on classroom environment, teaching styles, and familial support, primarily of their mothers; (2) benefits of an all-boy classroom are increased attentiveness, comfortability, and teacher’s use of relevant and differentiated teaching practices (3) challenges of an all-boy class include occasional strange feelings of being in a classroom with only boys and some unproductive behaviors; and (4) teachers that foster the success of African American boys create a comfortable learning environment, hold high expectations, are encouraging, and engage in teaching practices that relate to and motivate students. Knowing what appeals to African American boys can be used to increase participation and achievement of these students in schools.