A grounded theory of the course -choosing experiences of African American high school students and their families related to advanced-level courses




Jones, Brenda Laverne

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Research findings indicate that students' course selections impact the racial and ethnic achievement gap. Exposure to advanced-level courses has been found to lessen this gap and enhances success after high school. Despite this, African American students tend to evidence lower participation in these courses than do other racial and ethnic student groups. The purpose of this qualitative study was to better understand and discover factors that influence the course-choosing behaviors of students with a goal of assisting them through academic guidance and career planning. The findings indicated that student participants' thoughts and feelings derived from their experiences, which affected their confidence, motivation, and self efficacy levels. Experiences perceived by participants as negative bred apprehension that adversely impacted beliefs in personal competencies, and non-participation in the courses. Positively perceived experiences bred success and contributed to increased confidence, strong beliefs in personal competencies, and enrollment in the courses. The theory that evolved from this analysis is that students' thoughts and feelings about their personal competencies greatly impacted their course-choosing decisions and served as determinants for enrollment (or not) in advanced-level courses. Implications for students and their families, counselors, and the broader academic community are discussed.


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Achievement, Advanced Level Courses, African American, Black, Course Selection, Secondary Education