Dissertation Defense By Ronald L. Lancia

Dissertation Defense By Ronald L. Lancia

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Date and Time

  • Wednesday, April 17, 2013 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Mother Rosalie Hill Hall, Room 131

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110






This dissertation addresses a continuing crisis in our nation’s education system. Historically African American students have underperformed academically compared with their white and Asian peers. This achievement gap is particularly pronounced for African-American males. AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), an academic support program for underachieving students, most recently created the African American Male Initiative (AAMI). The AAMI was designed specifically to respond to the needs of black males. Despite its efforts, the AAMI has had a difficult time attracting and retaining black male participants. The purpose of this study was to better understand why African-American high school males are not choosing to participate in the AVID AAMI, or once enrolled, often drop out.

This qualitative study examined the high school experiences of AAMI students, the factors that support and challenge their academic progress in general, and the factors that are more specifically influencing their retention in the AAMI program. Through an analysis of two AAMI pilot schools, this study used interviews with students, teachers, and coordinators, along with survey and observational data of classes and AAMI meetings to construct an analysis of the individual, cultural, and structural factors that influence the educational experiences of these black males.

Findings from the study indicated that although lack of individual motivation and self-confidence frequently threatened their participation in the program, the black males in this study did not view the pursuit of academic achievement as tantamount to “acting white,” as has been suggested by previous research. Instead, with the structural arrangements provided by the AAMI, students received mentorship that bolstered their focus on academic achievement and retention in the program.

The implications of this research for the AVID AAMI, and for educators and policy makers who are focused on improving educational outcomes for African-American male students in particular, are discussed.


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