The major topic of the article is the influence of the curriculum on the achievement of African American students. In particular, the researchers wanted to see how the teachers and students view the curriculum in a high-performing African American school.
The study addresses the topic by analyzing the perceptions of African American students and teachers about the peculiarities of a curriculum in an African American school. The idea was to single out the major themes that emerged during the interviews with all the participants. The development of these themes was believed to provide valuable insights into how the curriculum in US schools can be modified to address the problem of underachievement among racial minorities.
The study does not test any hypotheses that emerged in the previous studies. Instead of elaborating on already existing ideas, Wiggan and Watson-Vandiver (2019) decided to generate a pool of new ideas about how the curriculum should be changed to improve the current situation with the underachievement of African American students in K-12 schools. At the same time, even though the article provides significant insights about what should be done to improve the academic achievement of African Americans and why it should be done, the researchers left it unclear how the recommended changes in the curriculum should be promoted.
The primary evidence used regarding the problem is the analysis of interviews with students and teachers from a high-achieving African American school that had a unique curriculum that supported the students’ improved achievement despite the fact that the school was located in a low-income neighborhood where 77.3% of the students are on free or reduced lunch. The researchers also provided evidence about the significance of the topic using an extensive literature review on the peculiarities of high-achieving schools, multiculturalism, and African-centered education.
The research aimed at capturing the perspectives of students and teachers on the curriculum in a high-achieving African American school. The researchers utilized semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, and essays to achieve the desired goal. The researchers utilized purposive sampling to guarantee that both genders are equally represented. Moreover, the selection process was also meant to include teachers and students with the longest tenure in the school. The participants were selected during a meeting with parents. Parental consent was obtained after the meeting, and all the questions of the parents were answered. The total sample included 20 participants. In total, the researchers spent 120 hours in observations, dedicated 90 minutes per participant in interviews, and allowed 30 minutes for essays to every participant.
The gathered data underwent numerous analysis procedures to arrive at the conclusions. In particular, the interviews were transcribed and coded using open and axial coding. The essays were analyzed using qualitative content analysis along with open and axial coding. All the responses were categorized using the same categories for both essays and interviews. The researchers failed to describe how the observations were analyzed.
The primary strength of the scholarly work is its uniqueness, which provides a significant addition to the current body of knowledge. In the literature review, researchers acknowledged that recent research does not include much information on high-performing African American schools, and the studies that discuss student perceptions are even more scarce. The generated insights can be used in the future to formulate hypotheses and test them using rigorous quantitative methods. Additionally, the researchers utilized numerous methods to arrive at conclusions, which support the reliability of findings, which is crucial for qualitative research.
The primary limitation of the researcher is the characteristics of the sample. The researchers based their study on one school, which implies that the generalizability of findings is limited only to the school under analysis. At the same time, the researchers acknowledge that the results should be used only for private schools, as there is a significant gap in characteristics between public and private schools. In particular, private schools are more reluctant to change curriculum as they believe necessary, while public schools need to follow standard curricula. Wiggan and Watson-Vandiver (2019) used only qualitative methods, which implies that the reliability of findings may be biased.
The study puts multiculturalism at the forefront of the study by relying on theoretical frameworks of critical theory and anti-racism education. The critical theory condemns the current system of education, as the role of teachers is to deposit knowledge in students’ minds, and the students are rewarded for remembering the information. The critical theory insists that education should be based on critical dialogue, which helps to transform the personality and the society. Additionally, the idea of anti-racism education addresses racial marginalization in school curricula and pedagogy.
The curriculum of cultural empowerment is a facilitator of the academic achievement of African American students. The problem with the standard curriculum is that it focuses primarily on the misfortunes associated with Black history instead of capturing triumphs. African-centered education can support the empowerment of African American students, which can improve their academic achievement.
Dixson, D. D., Roberson, C. C., & Worrell, F. C. (2017). Psychosocial keys to African American achievement? Examining the relationship between achievement and psychosocial variables in high achieving African Americans. Journal of Advanced Academics, 28(2), 120-140. Web.
Wiggan, G., & Watson-Vandiver, M. J. (2019). Pedagogy of empowerment: student perspectives on critical multicultural education at a high-performing African American school. Race Ethnicity and Education, 22(6), 767-787. Web.