Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Addressing education debt: student and teacher perceptions of successful teaching of low-income African American students

Pinsky, Stephanie, L (2013) Addressing education debt: student and teacher perceptions of successful teaching of low-income African American students. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (532kB) | Preview


Low-income African American students face a number of barriers to achieving academic success. When compared to other low-income students, the challenges facing low-income African American students are unique as they must overcome both economic and racialized barriers. Viewed through the lens of education debt (Ladson-Billings, 2006), which considers the effects of long-term social disparities, this thesis addresses two questions: 1) How do students and teachers describe the barriers to students’ academic success? and 2) What factors do students and teachers identify in the classroom, school, and community environment that facilitate student engagement and classroom learning? Data for this thesis come from a community-based participatory research project conducted at a racially-segregated, high-poverty public school, and consist of 24 in-depth interviews: 6 teacher interviews, 14 student interviews, and 4 student focus group interviews. Participants include 6 teachers and 9 students. Participants were asked open-ended questions regarding their perceptions about their experiences in the school. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed through a collaborative process of coding, memoing, and discussion with advising faculty. Student-identified barriers to academic success include behavior problems, educators’ inability to manage students, a focus on discipline rather than academics, and a lack of culturally competent educators. Student-identified factors that lead to positive school experiences include authoritative yet caring and supportive educators, structured small group collaboration, and extracurricular and recreational activities. Teacher-identified barriers to academic success include poor administrative support, inconsistencies in school, and negative out-of-school experiences and influences. Teacher-identified factors that lead to positive school experiences include professional relationship-building skills and cultural competence. Findings provide insight about education debt in schools serving predominantly low-income African American youth and suggest a behavioral, cultural, professional, and institutional manifestation of education debt. Findings also suggest methods for repaying education debt include increasing behavioral and emotional support resources, strengthening professional training and recruitment, and transforming schools into institutions of social justice.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Pinsky, Stephanie,
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairPetraccii, Helen, Ehpssw@pitt.eduHPSSW
Committee CoChairGoodkind, Sarasag51@pitt.eduSAG51
Committee MemberHutcheson,
Committee MemberWallace, John, Mjohnw@pitt.eduJOHNW
Date: 18 July 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 May 2013
Approval Date: 18 July 2013
Submission Date: 18 July 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 157
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
School of Social Work > Social Work
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: African American, education, low-income, poverty, community-based participatory research, education debt, social justice, school.
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2013 15:16
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:14


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item