Eagles who soar: how African Caribbeans achieve academic success
At BERA Annual Conference 2006.
06 - 09 Sep 2006.
Microsoft Word BERA_conference_paper_Eagles_who_soar.doc
Restricted to Registered users only
Historically there has been a wealth of research into the educational underachievement of African Caribbeans which presents a picture of the overrepresentation of African Caribbeans in all the negative statistics. Despite the negative statistics there are African Caribbeans who do well academically however relatively few studies have explored this area. This study aimed to investigate the educational experiences of African Caribbeans in the UK. It focussed on the factors that contribute to African Caribbean academic success, taking into account the factors that contribute to low academic achievement. The theoretical underpinnings of the research lay within phenomenology which is a paradigm that seeks to explore the way people experience their world (Tesch, 1990). This paradigm was set within an eco-systemic framework influenced by grounded theory which allowed for the exploration of the perceptions and interpretations of experiences within a range of contexts or eco-systems such as the home, community and school.
Questionnaires and semi structured interviews were used to collect data. Seventy-eight questionnaires were analysed and thirty-two respondents aged 16 to 40+ years were interviewed. Respondents were placed into five achievement groups based on their examination performance at school. A Success group with at least 5 GCSE A*-C grades gained at the end of secondary school, a Retake group who achieved at least five passes after leaving school, a Vocational group with only vocational qualifications, a Low Achievement group with less than four GCSEs and no other qualifications and a School Underachiever Life Achievers (SULA) group who did not have 5 GCSE’s (or equivalent) but had or were working towards a degree.
The findings revealed that most African Caribbeans have negative experiences at school. These may arise from interactions with teachers and staff, which leave pupils feeling that they have been treated differently or unfairly to other children. In addition, they reported a general lack of support and encouragement from teachers as well as negative, sometimes racist experiences with other children.
The difference between those who are successful academically and those who are not lies within the cumulative effect of positive experiences at home where parents have high expectations, are encouraging and provide practical help with homework. They also benefit from the cumulative effect of positive experiences within the community where activities are achievement oriented, regular and consistent, voluntary and enjoyable. These positive effects promote the development of resilience and protective factors within the child which enables him/her to process negative experiences in a way that does not distract from their goals of achieving at school.
The academically unsuccessful respondents experienced less support and more negative, inconsistent experiences at home and in the community. They had developed less resilience and had fewer protective factors making them more susceptible and vulnerable to the impact of negative school experiences. A positive interaction between the ecosystems of home, community and school is important in ensuring the highest possible academic outcomes for African Caribbean children.
Actions (login required)