Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Lisa Gonsalves

Second Advisor

Wenfan Yan

Third Advisor

Tricia Kress


This Phenomenological Variant of Ecological Systems Theory (PVEST) study highlights the words of three eighth-grade African-American males who participated in a Life History methodology study. The purpose of this investigation was to explore the educational experiences of three eighth-grade AA male students who have been excessively suspended and expelled.

This research illuminated the educational Life Stories of three African-American males, and the impact of disciplinary procedures, policies, and relationships with their teachers, peers, and family. The questions explored the following: What is the educational Life History of three eighth-grade African-American males who have been assigned to NEA due to excessive suspensions? What role does individual decision-making play in the educational experiences of AA males? What role does the social context play in the educational experiences of AA males? How does the school context impact the educational experiences of AA males?

Data was collected from semi-structured interviews of the 3 AA males, their mothers, and a current teacher. The analysis of the data suggests that the educational experiences of the AA males were filled with both positive and negative school climates and relationships with teachers, and the importance of having engaging lessons, especially in middle school, and influences of their peers in and out of school.

In response to these findings, the researcher offers some suggestions for future actions by administrators, disciplinarians, and policymakers, which reflect the complex nature of a school’s climate and the relationship between student and teacher. Ultimately, the researcher determines that more emphasis should be placed on the Social and Emotional learning of all students, but specifically for AA males who have had excessive suspension. Also, building a positive school climate, teacher-student relationships and peer relationships are critical to the overall positive social development of the AA males.


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