Progression of African-Caribbean Students in Further Education: Positive Approaches for Academic Success

Baker-Oxley, Deavon Rose (2019). Progression of African-Caribbean Students in Further Education: Positive Approaches for Academic Success. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00010a49

Abstract

This study explored the academic achievement of African-Caribbean students aged 16-18, including the factors that may influence their achievement, and considered how further education policy and practice may support their academic progression. Department for Education data showed significant and persistent underachievement of these students which could not be accounted for by their socio-economic status, or their attitude towards education.

Elements of critical race theory provided the theoretical framework for this thesis, specifically, race as a social construct, that racism is ingrained into everyday interactions, and the intersectionality of race, gender and class.

This research employed a case study research style and innovatively combined student responses to form a “collective voice.” Data was gathered using Metaplan, a focus group technique new to research in further education, and a semi-structured questionnaire. 23 students and six teachers participated in the study. The data gathered was coded and common themes identified. These were then analysed in relation to current literature and the research questions.

The study found that factors intrinsic to the students, such as aspirations for the future, support received from families and experiences of academic success had a positive influence on their academic achievement. Conversely, structural factors in educational policy and practice were seen to have a negative influence, such as the legacy of colonialism and slavery; low teachers’ expectations; a Eurocentric curriculum as a source of micro-invalidations; and racial stereotypes.

Policy and practice recommendations include raising teachers’ awareness of stereotyping; teacher education that develops teachers’ understanding and appreciation of students’ cultures; developing an inclusive curriculum that is empowering for all students; providing improved study skills training, providing targeted guidance and information to access Higher Education; and publication of improved ethnicity data relating to achievement. Methodology recommendations include consideration of critical race theory and the use of Metaplan techniques in educational research.

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