Achievement, Racial Identity, and Connectedness: Gender Differences Among African American High School Students

Achievement, Racial Identity, and Connectedness: Gender Differences Among African American High School Students

Colette M. Boston (Los Angeles Unified School District, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5748-7.ch010

Abstract

Literature suggests African American students' racial identity impacts their feelings of belongingness to the school community as well as academic achievement. Researchers, however, have argued that racial identity impairs or promotes student achievement. This study examined the effects of the individual components of racial identity (centrality, regard, and ideology) and sense of belonging on the academic achievement of 105 African American high school students. Quantitative analysis revealed centrality as the sole predictor of sense of belonging for males and a positive relationship between sense of belonging and centrality and private regard in females. These findings support the significance of positive student-teacher relationships as well as the importance of schools cultivating a culture of acceptance of all students.
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Racial Identity

Racial identity is a construct that has been examined as far back as the 1930s to explore the psychological experiences of African Americans (Clark & Clark, 1939). Scholars have used one of two theoretical approaches to examining racial identity: a mainstream approach or an underground approach (Sellers, Smith, Shelton, Rowley, & Chavous, 1998). The mainstream approach focuses on the stigma attached to being a member of a marginalized group (African American) but fails to consider the rich culture of African Americans. The underground approach evolved from the racial identity research of W. E. B. DuBois (1903). The underground approach holds that racial identity is an attribute, shaped by culture, and influences the formation of an individual’s personality (Sellers, Smith, Shelton, Rowley, & Chavous, 1998).

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