Culturally Responsive Teaching and Mentoring for African American Males Attending Post-Secondary Schools: Diversity Beyond Disability

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Mentoring for African American Males Attending Post-Secondary Schools: Diversity Beyond Disability

York Williams (West Chester University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2177-9.ch006


African American male (AAM) college students with learning disabilities confront a number of obstacles while matriculating. Data indicates that a growing percentage of college students of color are enrolling in post-secondary institutions to pursue a higher education, but there still remains a graduation gap and retention issues between Black and White students, with the graduation rates of Black males still looming behind those of other groups. Of this student population, AAM's with learning disabilities encounter obstacles, both culturally, emotionally, financially, and psychologically that tend to exacerbate their learning needs and overall college experience, thus resulting in them dropping out midway through or at the end of the semester. Colleges and universities must address this gap and provide opportunities for culturally responsive mentoring, teaching, and specialized supports for AAM's with learning-diverse needs used to increase college graduation rates.
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The landscape of higher education has changed over the last decade as opportunities for students from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds have welcomed more opportunities to enter college (Anderson 2006; Bonner and Bailey 2006; Campbell and Fleming 2000; Clayton et al. 2004; Ellis 2004; Eston 2003; Hall and Rowan 2000; Harris 1996; Jackson and Moore 2006; Jenkins 2006; Massey 2003; Noguera 2003; Phillips 2004; Roach 2001; Wilson 2000). However, the retention and graduation rates for this subgroup have waned, with data indicating that there are still downward trends in the successful matriculation and graduation for African American males attending both Predominately White Institutions (PWI’s) and Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU’s) (Harper, Carini, Bridges, & Hayek, 2004; Sedlacek & Adams-Gaston, 1992; Wood & Turner, 2010) and concerns with the quality of their overall college experiences from athletics to academics (Eiche, Sedlacek, & Adams-Gaston, 1997; Gaston-Gayles, 2004; Potuto & O’Hanlon, 2006; Sellers, Kuperminc, & Waddell, 1991). More recently, and since the reauthorization of the Individual Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) more students, particularly those of color and male with learning disabilities, have graduated from high school with the goal of attending college (Block, Loewen, & Kroeger, 2006; Burgstahler, 2007; Burgstahler & Moore, 2009; Marshak, Van Wieren, Ferrell, Swiss, & Dugan, 2010). However, data continues to reveal that as first-generation students of color and dealing with sometimes a marginalized K-12 special education college preparation program, these students are even more at-risk for drop out and underperforming in college (Astin, 1975; Hermanowicz, 2007; Tinto, 2007). One way to address this incessant gap that follows at-risk students from CLD backgrounds is through the culturally responsive teaching and mentoring at the college level (Williams, 2008; 2011).

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