Individual and School Structural Effects on African American High School Students' Academic Achievement

By Stewart, Endya B. | High School Journal, December 2007 | Go to article overview

Individual and School Structural Effects on African American High School Students' Academic Achievement


Stewart, Endya B., High School Journal


The research examining the correlates of academic achievement is immense. In particular, scores of studies have examined individual- and family-level variables that influence student achievement. Based upon Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological theory of human development, this study extends one step beyond previous studies and incorporates school-level characteristics into an investigation of the factors that influence adolescents' academic achievement. Using regression-based techniques that account for within-school clustering of students, this research examined the extent to which individual-level and school structural variables predict academic achievement among a sample of 10th grade African American students abstracted from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) database. The results suggest that individual-level predictors, such as student effort, parent-child discussion, and associations with positive peers, play a substantial role in increasing students' achievement. Further, the results also suggest that school climate, in particular the sense of school cohesion felt by students, teachers, and administrators, is important to successful student outcomes. Given these findings, the author suggests that an ecological approach which encompasses individual-, family-, and school-level variables be considered when examining predictors of academic achievement. Also, policy and interventions aimed at improving academic achievement need to take into consideration the impact of individual-level and school structural factors on students and their ability to succeed.

Introduction

Academic achievement and its predictors have been an important topic of study for educational researchers and policymakers for many decades. Researchers have sought to explain why some students achieve at higher levels than others and what factors influence these differences. These researchers have observed that a variety of individual-level and school structural variables are consistently linked to academic achievement, including school commitment (Battistich, Solomon, Kim, Watson, & Schaps, 1995), school involvement (Brown & Evans, 2002; McNeal, 1995), school attachment (Crosnoe, Johnson, & Elder, 2004; Johnson, Crosnoe, & Elder, 2001), and school climate (Dupper & Meyer-Adams, 2002; Goldsmith, 2004; Lee & Bryk, 1989). Through analyses of students' individual behaviors and schools' structural characteristics, these studies have identified elements shown to impact academic achievement. Although it seems evident from the research that both individual-level and school structural variables affect academic achievement, the process by which this effect occurs is often described as complex (Feuerstein, 2000).

Accordingly, the theoretical approach utilized must take into consideration these complex relationships. This study draws upon Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological theory of human development. His theory provides a model of interrelated social structures (e.g., self, family, peers, home, and school) and processes that influence individual behavior. As Bronfenbrenner (1979) pointed out, children develop in a multitude of social contexts. Social contexts have been found to be important in explaining individual differences in achieving ends such as academic gains, educational attainment, occupational status, etc. (Duncan & Randenbush, 1999). Moreover, the social context in which children operate influences their ability to adjust to the expectations of school and learn how to become successful students (Wentzel, 1999).

In line with the above processes, this study seeks to determine the ecological factors (i.e., characteristics of the person and of the environment) that contribute to the academic achievement of African American adolescents. Due to the interconnected nature of the structures and processes in Bronfenbrenner's model, academic outcomes, such as academic achievement, are seen as a result of the joint function of characteristics representing the individual person (e. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Individual and School Structural Effects on African American High School Students' Academic Achievement
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.