1 / URBAN Irving, Hudley EDUCATION / CULTURAL / SEPTEMBER MISTRUST 2005 AND ACADEMIC OUTCOME CULTURAL MISTRUST, ACADEMIC OUTCOME EXPECTATIONS, AND OUTCOME VALUES AMONG AFRICAN AMERICAN ADOLESCENT MEN MILES ANTHONY IRVING Georgia State University CYNTHIA HUDLEY University of California, Santa Barbara This study measured the relationship between outcome expectations, outcome value, and cultural mistrust among African American male high school students (N = 75) attending an urban, Southern California school. We hypothesized that a negative perception of the dominant culture would negatively affect academic outcome expectations and academic achievement values. The results indicated, as hypothesized, a significant inverse relationship between cultural mistrustand outcome expectations. There was also a significant relationship between cultural mistrust and outcome value. In addition, cultural mistrust and outcome value were significant predictors of academic outcome expectations. Findings are discussed in terms of the importance of understanding sociocultural influences on achievement motivation among ethnic minority youth. Keywords: African American; academic outcome; males Throughout the past several decades, Africans Americans as a group have continued to struggle with academic success, as evidenced by standardized test scores, high school completion rates, and postsecondary completion rates. State and federally mandated standardized testing programs have proved particularly challenging for African American students, who continue to score at levels significantly below other groups of students (Freedle, 2003; Helms, URBAN EDUCATION, Vol. 40 No. 5, September DOI: / Corwin Press, Inc. 476
2 Irving, Hudley / CULTURAL MISTRUST AND ACADEMIC OUTCOME ). High school graduation rates for African Americans remain less than 60% nationally, and in many large, urban districts, completion rates are much worse (Greene, 2002). In addition, African Americans enrolled in college programs complete a bachelor s degree at less than half the rate of their White peers and less than a third the rate of their Asian peers (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2001). SEEKING SOLUTIONS TO UNDERACHIEVEMENT Collectively, school drop-out rates and educational underachievement reflect an obdurate barrier to social mobility for African Americans, both as individuals and for the African American community as a whole. Although issues of academic underachievement and school failure among African American students have been a focus of research for several decades, clear explanations for and consistent solutions to the problem remain elusive. Unequal schooling and social inequity have been clearly implicated (Fine, 1991; Oakes, 1985). However, academic underachievement among African American students is equally robust among urban and suburban students as well as across the full spectrum of socioeconomic status (SES; Ogbu, 1991; University of California, Outreach Task Force, 1997). As well, some African American students at all levels of SES are quite successful in school (Ford, 1998; Hilliard, 2003). Thus, we must look beyond the obvious inequities in educational and economic opportunities that confront ethnic minorities in this country to develop a richer, more nuanced description of the broad range of influences on students underachievement. One theoretically robust and empirically fruitful area of research on underachievement has been the study of student motivation. Current models guiding motivational research with African American students have largely been grounded in social learning, social cognitive, or cultural ecological frameworks (Bandura, 2002; Hilliard, 1992; Kromhout & Vedder, 1996). However, few studies have attempted to explore the intersection of these multiple traditions as they affect school achievement. Specifically, relatively little is known about the consequences of membership in a marginalized cultural group on students own achievement-related beliefs
3 478 URBAN EDUCATION / SEPTEMBER 2005 and academic motivation. The current study has addressed that question by exploring the relationship between beliefs about cultural barriers to success and beliefs about educational achievement in a sample of African American high school students. ACHIEVEMENT MOTIVATION AND STUDENT BELIEFS Perhaps the dominant paradigm for motivational research in the past few decades has been the expectancy value model of motivation. This general model has illustrated that human behavior is strongly influenced by an individual s expectancy of a successful outcome when engaging in a particular behavior and the subjective value of that successful outcome (Weiner, 1992). Furthermore, expectancy of success and perceptions of value will influence one s willingness to overcome challenges and persevere toward a particular goal, academic or otherwise (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002; Lord, Hanges, & Godfrey, 2003). In the educational domain, students are motivated toward achievement striving if they expect those strivings to result in outcomes that they desire and deem favorable. One set of motivational beliefs, outcome expectancies, has been found to influence a range of motivated behaviors. For example, early laboratory research with young children demonstrated that high expectancies for success were related to higher persistence on an assigned task (Mahrer, 1956). More recent school-based research has revealed that expectancies predict grades, class choices, and occupational aspirations (Nauta & Epperson, 2003). For example, among high school students in advanced mathematics classes, expectancies for success predicted subsequent classroom grades as well as effective use of learning strategies (Pokay & Blumenfeld, 1990). Research also has found that perceptions of competence and outcome expectancy predict successful school completion as early as sixth grade (Eccles, Vida, & Barber, 2004; Jacobs, Lanza, Osgood, Eccles, & Wigfield, 2002). A conceptually related construct, academic self-efficacy, is the belief in one s competence to perform academic tasks (Diegelman & Subich, 2001; Zimmerman, 2000). A body of literature has demonstrated that efficacy beliefs are correlated with outcome expectations, which predict subsequent academic achievement (Bandura,
4 Irving, Hudley / CULTURAL MISTRUST AND ACADEMIC OUTCOME ). For example, research with elementary school students revealed that those with higher efficacy beliefs and expectations of success in a laboratory-assigned task showed greater persistence in problem solving, greater learning gains, and more accurate self-evaluation of task performance (Bouffard-Bouchard, 1990). Given this documented relationship between student outcome expectancies and achievement behavior, it is reasonable to wonder if underachievement among African American students is partially explained by the impact of perceived barriers on academic outcome expectancies. Academic outcome value represents the importance and desirability that students perceive for outcomes that are possible as a result of a formal education (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000). If expectancy beliefs answer the question, Can I accomplish this?, then achievement values answer the question, Do I want this? If the outcomes that are commonly associated with success in formal education are not perceived as useful or attractive, motivation to achieve those outcomes may be undermined (Anderman & Midgley, 1997; Wigfield & Eccles, 2002). Even students who believe they can accomplish particular outcomes are less likely to work diligently if they perceive the attractiveness or utility of the outcome as negligible (Shell, Murphy, & Bruning, 1989). Adolescents who devalue academic achievement striving are more likely to direct their attention and efforts to nonacademic pursuits (personal dress and grooming, athletic prowess, dating success) that may not be conducive to academic success (Graham, Taylor, & Hudley, 1998). THE SOCIOCULTURAL ENVIRONMENT Motivational beliefs and values are influenced by the sociocultural environment in which students must pursue educational goals. In the United States, race, economic status, and social stratification are sociocultural factors that may affect an individual s outcome expectancies and outcome values (Darley & Gross, 1983; Williams, Davis, Cribbs, Saunders, & Williams, 2002). In a society plagued by racism and classism, as is the United States (Hacker, 1992), those who perceive barriers to be racially or ethnically motivated may have little expectation of success (Weis & Fine, 1993).
5 480 URBAN EDUCATION / SEPTEMBER 2005 For example, a body of motivational research had consistently attempted to connect chronic school failure among African Americans to low expectancy and negative academic self-beliefs (see review in Graham, 1994). However, the causal relationship between self-beliefs and achievement beliefs is complex and not well understood. Research has not successfully specified a causal direction among academic achievement, expectancy beliefs, and self-beliefs in African American students (see review in Graham, 1994). For example, van Laar (2000) found that for African American college students, declines in academic outcome expectancies are driven primarily by the growing belief that opportunities are proscribed by racial inequality rather than changes in self-beliefs or measured achievement. Similarly, in a national survey, African American adults expressed the belief that racial discrimination, rather than individual failure, accounts for low career and educational success among members of ethnic minority groups (Hughes & Demo, 1989). Collectively, these data represent compelling evidence of the impact of the sociocultural environment as a primary influence on expectancy beliefs. Turning to achievement value, work on social stereotypes suggests that African American adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to pervasive cultural stereotypes that portray them as intellectually incompetent and socially belligerent (Hudley & Graham, 2001; Steele, 1997). These cultural stereotypes are widely known to these adolescent targets (Brown, 1995) and may lead to adolescents through a process of psychological disidentification (Steele, 1997). The theory of stereotype threat proposes that members of negatively stereotyped groups may fear being judged or treated according to that stereotype. Given this social-psychological threat, African American youth may devalue achievement striving and reject identification with school, irrespective of their academic competence, in response to racist stereotypes (Major et al., 2002; Steele & Aronson, 1998). In sum, although research has identified a number of self-beliefs that govern outcome expectancies and outcome values, we argue here that these two critical determinants of achievement motivation are moderated by the broader sociocultural environment in which students must enact their achievement strivings. Membership in a marginalized ethnic group that is simul-
6 Irving, Hudley / CULTURAL MISTRUST AND ACADEMIC OUTCOME 481 taneously victimized by racial discrimination and hostile cultural stereotypes may negatively affect both outcome expectancies and achievement values. CULTURAL MISTRUST One construct that may be useful in operationalizing the influence of social inequity on motivational beliefs has been described as cultural mistrust (F. Terrell & Terrell, 1981), or the tendency for African Americans to distrust Whites in institutional, personal, or social contexts. Such distrust, fueled by the pervasive influence of racism, saps African Americans confidence and trust in White Americans and White-controlled institutions (Feagin & McKinney, 2003; Larson & Ovando, 2001). From slavery up until the civil rights movement of the early 1960s, the majority of African Americans were economically relegated to a lower or underclass status in the United States. After the civil rights movement and continuing until the present, many African Americans have opportunities to work within the dominant culture, but they still face limited opportunities for promotion, commonly known as the glass ceiling (Grodsky & Pager, 2001). Currently, qualified African Americans continue to earn less per dollar than White men with the same qualifications and credentials (Staveteig & Wigton, 2000). Cultural mistrust is an attitudinal response to years of racial and economic oppression. African Americans with high levels of cultural mistrust will therefore expect that members or institutions of the dominant culture will not treat them in a fair manner (Ogbu, 1991). An attitude of mistrust negatively affects some African Americans interactions with members and institutions of the dominant culture (F. Terrell, Terrell, & Miller, 1993). For example, many African Americans, confronted with manifestly inferior schools (Kozol, 1991), do not trust the public education system to provide an adequate education for their children (Ogbu, 1991). Many African American families and communities may perceive structural and political barriers such as neglected community infrastructure and deficient schooling to represent racially constructed neglect (Gadsden, Smith, & Jordan, 1996). Adolescents may similarly interpret structurally imposed racial
7 482 URBAN EDUCATION / SEPTEMBER 2005 disadvantages as indicators that there is little relationship between academic achievement striving and economic and social opportunities in life (Mickelson, 1990). This lack of trust that African Americans can receive equal access to the opportunity structure in the United States may create both lowered educational outcome expectations and a devaluing of achievement striving (Ogbu, 1991). Cultural mistrust has been researched in the clinical and counseling area for several decades, dating back to the introduction of the construct of healthy cultural paranoia (Grier & Cobbs, 1968). Clinical research has typically addressed the relationship between cultural mistrust and attitudes toward mental health services. These studies suggest that African Americans who are high in cultural mistrust tend to have more negative attitudes toward therapy with White clinicians and greater expectations of bias from the mental health system (Phelps, Taylor, & Gerard, 2001; Terrell, Daniloff, Garden, Flint-Shaw, & Flowers, 2001; Thompson, Nevelle, Weathers, Postin, & Atkinson, 1990; Whaley, 2001a, 2001b). Fewer studies have investigated the relationship between cultural mistrust and academic functioning. However, our current knowledge, albeit limited, suggests that mistrust is detrimental to academic functioning. Prior research has demonstrated a negative relationship between occupational expectations and cultural mistrust among African American junior high school students (F. Terrell et al., 1993). As well, adolescents both in this country and abroad with higher levels of cultural mistrust also self-report higher levels of deviant behavior, which may have a negative influence on school performance (Biafora et al., 1993; Taylor, Biafora, & Warheit, 1994). In sum, upward social and economic mobility has been a powerful incentive supporting academic achievement motivation for many Americans (Larson & Ovando, 2001). However, for African Americans as a group, several hundred years of racial, social, and economic discrimination may undermine academic achievement motivation by negatively affecting academic outcome expectancy and academic achievement values. The current study measured the relationship between cultural mistrust, academic achievement values, and academic outcome expectations among a sample of African American high school stu-
8 Irving, Hudley / CULTURAL MISTRUST AND ACADEMIC OUTCOME 483 dents. Our goal was to determine if effects of cultural mistrust that have been found in middle school students were similar for high school students. High school students are an especially important population to study given that important academic and career decisions take on an increased urgency as one progresses from middle school to high school. Based on prior research with adults and middle school students, we expected to find an inverse relationship between cultural mistrust and outcome expectations. We also expected cultural mistrust to have an inverse relationship with outcome value. Based on classic motivation theory, we expected outcome values and expectancy to be strongly intercorrelated. However, we expected cultural mistrust to uniquely predict outcome expectations after controlling for outcome value. METHOD PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING The participants were 75 male, African American, high school students, equally distributed across 9th through 12th grade, at an urban high school in Southern California (M age = 15.5). Prior research indicates that the influences of variables included in this study may differ by gender (Fordham, 1996; Osborne, 1997); thus, only male respondents were included in this initial study. Students attended a multiethnic high school consisting of 27% African American, 12% Hispanic, 15% European American, 44% Asian American, and 2% Pacific Islander. The neighborhood surrounding the high school is a lowermiddle to lower-class community with 24% European American, 34% Hispanics, 16.5% African American, and 23% Asian and Pacific Islander (U.S. Census Bureau, 1990). The majority of the people (76%) who reside in the community hold service sector, production, machine operation, and sales occupations (U.S. Census Bureau, 1990). The high school has two high achievement magnet programs, which attract many European Americans from an affluent neighborhood outside the immediate school community.
9 484 URBAN EDUCATION / SEPTEMBER 2005 INSTRUMENTS Cultural mistrust. The Cultural Mistrust Inventory (CMI; F. Terrell & Terrell, 1981) is a 48-item measure that assesses the degree to which African Americans trust the intentions and actions of Whites and the institutions of the dominant culture more generally. A sample item would be, White teachers deliberately ask Black students hard questions so the students will fail. When designing the cultural mistrust inventory, the authors used the Jackson (1970) Social Desirability Scale to eliminate items that might demonstrate a systematic bias. The CMI was originally designed with four subscales: Politics and Law, Business and Workplace, Education and Training, and Interpersonal Relationships. Items are rated on a 10-point scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Individual item ratings are summed and divided by the number of items in each subscale to obtain mean subscale scores, which can each range from 1 to 10. The higher the score, the higher the level of mistrust toward the dominant culture and Whites in particular. The CMI, initially used to assess African American college students, displayed reasonable test-retest reliability (r =.86) (F. Terrell & Terrell, 1981). The scale has subsequently been used with African American junior high school students as well (F. Terrell et al., 1993). To assess the appropriateness of the measure for a high school population, the first author conducted a pilot study with 15 males attending an urban high school in Southern California. Ten of the 15 participants had difficulty understanding four specific items. Three of the items contained unfamiliar vocabulary; terms were replaced with synonyms more congruent with the language of today s youth. In the item, White teachers are more likely to slant the subject matter to make Blacks look inferior, the word slant was changed to present. Similarly, in the item, White policemen will slant a story to make Blacks appear guilty, the word slant was replaced with change. The final item with unfamiliar vocabulary, A Black person cannot trust a White judge to evaluate him or her fairly, was changed to, A Black person cannot trust a White judge to give him or her a fair trial. Finally, an idiomatic phrase not in the lexicon of students today was eliminated. Initially, the item read,
10 Irving, Hudley / CULTURAL MISTRUST AND ACADEMIC OUTCOME 485 Since Whites can t be trusted in business, the old saying one in the hand is worth two in the bush is a good policy to follow. This item was changed to, Whites can t be trusted in business. Outcome expectations and values. Outcome expectations and outcome value were assessed with an adapted version of the African American Career Outcome Expectancy Inventory (Irving, 2002). This 20-item instrument measures the outcomes that respondents expect to gain from their occupations, as well as how much they value these outcomes. The instrument was originally designed to measure career outcome expectations and value for African American adults working in traditional and nontraditional occupations. For this study conducted with high school students, the stem of each item was modified appropriately. The original stem stated, If I work hard in my occupation and maintain excellent work habits I will be able to... Forthis study, the stem was changed to, If I graduate from high school and complete a higher educational program (example: university degree, job training, community college degree, or technical college certification), I will be able to... Giventhescope of the changes, this revision is now referred to as the African American Educational Outcome Inventory (AEOI; Irving, 2002). The AEOI is divided into two sections. The first section consists of 10 questions measuring the outcomes students expect to gain from high school graduation. These outcomes include high income, prestige, status, a strong ethnic identity, as well as the ability to avoid significant racial discrimination. The second section asks individuals how much they value those same outcomes. All questions were scored on a 10-point scale ranging from very unlikely or very unimportant to very likely or very important. Higher scores indicate more optimistic expectations and more positive valuation of a particular outcome. PROCEDURE Written informed consent was obtained from the participants as well as the parent or legal guardian of students younger than age 18. Groups of 10 to 15 students for whom consent was received com-
11 486 URBAN EDUCATION / SEPTEMBER 2005 TABLE 1 Subscale Intercorrelations for the Cultural Mistrust Inventory Subscale (n = 75) BW.88**.85**.82** 2. IR.84**.75** 3. ET.75** 4. PL NOTE: BW = Business and Workplace, IR = Interpersonal Relationships, ET = Education and Training, PL = Politics and Law. **p <.01. pleted the measures during a single, 30-min session in a room away from their regular classroom. The first author collected all of the data. The presentation of the two measures was counterbalanced across the groups of participants. RESULTS PRELIMINARY ANALYSES Our preliminary analyses examined the psychometric properties of our three scales. We first examined the relationships among subscales as well as across the full set of individual items for the CMI. The Cronbach s alpha coefficients were.96 for the full scale CMI,.92 for the Business and Work subscale,.77 for the Interpersonal Relationships subscale,.89 for the Education and Training subscale, and.87 for the Politics and Law subscale. Interitem correlations ranged from a low of r =.27 to a high of r =.57. Finally, subscale intercorrelations were quite high (see Table 1). High subscale intercorrelations led us to conduct a factor analysis on the full-scale CMI. We examined multiple models to determine the appropriate structure of this measure. A one-factor model explained 43% of the variance in scores. The two-, three-, and fourfactor models explained an additional 7%, 5%, and 4% of the variance, respectively. Our findings with this sample are consistent with prior findings on the psychometric properties of the CMI
12 Irving, Hudley / CULTURAL MISTRUST AND ACADEMIC OUTCOME 487 (Whaley, 2002) demonstrating that the instrument is more psychometrically sound as a one-factor scale. Based on high intercorrelation among subscales, prior research, and our own factor analysis, we analyzed the CMI in subsequent hypothesis testing as a single composite score (sample, M = 5.3, SD = 1.6). The Cronbach s alpha coefficients for the outcome expectations and value scales were.89 and.91, respectively. The sample means were 7.5 (SD = 1.6) for outcome expectations and 8.1 (SD = 1.6) for outcome value. RELATIONSHIPS AMONG VARIABLES Consistent with our first three hypotheses, cultural mistrust had a significant negative relationship with outcome expectations (r =.57, p <.05) and outcome values (r =.37, p <.05). That is, the greater the reported cultural mistrust, the more negative were high school students expectations for achieving favorable educational outcomes and the less students valued those outcomes. In addition, consistent with prior research, outcome expectations and outcome value were significantly, positively related (r =.56, p <.05). We used a multiple regression analysis to examine our fourth hypothesis, using cultural mistrust and outcome value as the predictor variables and outcome expectations as the dependent variable. The overall model was significant, F(2, 70) = 32.73, p <.01, and the predictor variables accounted for 49% of the variance in outcome expectations (see Table 2). As hypothesized, cultural mistrust remained significant in the equation predicting educational outcome expectations above and beyond the influence of outcome values; that is, cultural mistrust accounted for a unique portion of the variance in outcome expectations. DISCUSSION As hypothesized, cultural mistrust was negatively related to both outcome expectations and outcome value. In addition, cultural mistrust and outcome value both uniquely predicted education outcome expectations. This is among the first quantitative studies to
13 488 URBAN EDUCATION / SEPTEMBER 2005 TABLE 2 Multiple Linear Regression for Outcome Expectations (N = 75) Variable R 2 f B SE B T 1 (Constant) ** Cultural mistrust ** Outcome value ** **p <.01. establish a relationship between perceptions of cultural barriers, educational outcome expectations, and values. Prior research has looked separately at beliefs concerning educational outcomes among African Americans (Arroyo & Zigler, 1995; Honora, 2003) and African Americans value of education (Graham et al., 1998). For example, F. Terrell et al. (1993) found a relationship between expectations for low-paying careers and high levels of cultural mistrust among African American junior high school students. However, the relationship between the three constructs (i.e., expectancy, value, and mistrust) has now been documented. There are several factors that might explain this relationship. This study found that high cultural mistrust related to low outcome expectations and outcome values. This relationship may serve as a protective mechanism for African American males. Martin Covington s (1992) research suggests that in the face of imminent or pervasive failure, an individual will typically lower the value of a given goal or outcome to protect the self-worth. These data suggest that in the face of perceived structural racism, students will not expect to control access to the opportunity structure, regardless of their academic efforts (i.e., high cultural mistrust). These students may therefore devalue academic accomplishments and achievement striving because they do not expect academic effort to yield personal benefits. Furthermore, high levels of effort that do not lead to success also will convey a message of personal incompetence that leads to diminished self-worth (Harter, Waters, & Whitesell, 1998). Rather than risk feeling personally incompetent, students who perceive structural barriers between personal effort and achievement may discount the academic domain as a
14 Irving, Hudley / CULTURAL MISTRUST AND ACADEMIC OUTCOME 489 place to achieve success in favor of other areas that can denote competence, such as social or athletic activities (Hudley, 1995). Another social cognitive construct, stereotype threat (Steele, 1997), suggests that the mechanisms leading to a devaluing of achievement striving may differ, but the outcomes for African American youth would be the same as those predicted by attribution or self-efficacy theory. Stereotype threat theory posits that a process of disidentification with academic achievement striving is the product of racist stereotypes rather than perceived racism per se. As described in the introduction, pervasive stereotypes of African Americans include strong messages of academic incompetence. Rather than running the risk of confirming those stereotypes, African American students may psychologically disidentify with academic activities and efforts. Steele has argued (1997) that academic disidentification is the result of a disconnect between academic self-esteem and global self-esteem resulting in lower valuation of and motivation toward educational pursuits. Cultural ecological theory provides a complementary frame for the findings from this study. Ogbu s theory identifies cultural inversion as one aspect of oppositional identity. Cultural inversion stems from the tendency for involuntary minorities to perceive certain cultural values and behaviors as inappropriate for themselves because they are characteristic of the dominant culture (Ogbu, 1991). Rather than adopt the values and practices of the dominant culture, involuntary minorities frame cultural values in opposition to the dominant culture, which is seen as the oppressor, to preserve their own identity (Ogbu & Simons, 1998). Thus, the same forces of racism and oppression that shape a strong oppositional identity also may constrain outcome expectations and lead to the devaluing of activities that are approved and encouraged by the dominant culture. IMPLICATIONS The findings of this study have implications for policy makers, educators, and parents of African American males living in urban environments. Further understanding of the experiences students are having that contribute to low academic outcome expectations, a mistrust of the dominant culture, and poor school performance will
15 490 URBAN EDUCATION / SEPTEMBER 2005 enable educators to identify methods to reduce the development of cultural mistrust in African American males. The variables of cultural mistrust, educational outcome expectations, and value may assist school personal by identifying students who are ideal for an educational intervention. Early detection of students low education expectations would help educators recognize students who are at risk of school failure. Programs designed to help students proactively become change agents in the current system while simultaneously creating successful educational experiences may help students with high levels of cultural mistrust develop a more progressive cultural identification. The inclusion of instructional theory focused on the social and cultural values of African Americans in the core curriculum of teacher education programs may provide some of the necessary preparatory education for future teachers of African American children. There should be a value and recognition of the individual differences and behavioral styles of diverse students. The creation of learning environments that are affirming, nurturing, and accepting to students would contribute to more students feeling a part of the formal educational system. The findings of our research also highlight the importance of implementing multicultural educational theory into the curriculum. Many schools implementation of multicultural curricula is limited to Black history month, certain holidays, and a display of ethnic food and artifacts. For multicultural education to become more effective, reform should begin at the epistemological level and reflect an approach toward understanding knowledge that is grounded in a diversity of thinking. One of the major limitations of many current multicultural approaches today is that the theoretical orientation of many multicultural teachings are derived from a framework that is rigidly grounded in a Western European worldview (Sue, 2001). Research has suggested that implementing alternative cultural competencies, psychological frameworks, and sociological perspectives are needed to effectively improve the achievement of diverse learners (Jones, 1991; Sue, 2001). This could include expanding the forms of literacy and use of language that is validated in the classroom, incorporating the diversity in
16 Irving, Hudley / CULTURAL MISTRUST AND ACADEMIC OUTCOME 491 the construction of knowledge that exists within different ethnic groups, as well as utilizing examples and perspectives toward learning that are grounded in the social reality of inner-city children of color (Abell, 1999). Without a grounding in and commitment to divergent epistemological paradigms, multicultural educational reform will continue to fall short in meeting the needs of many African American students. An issue that has direct implications for parents is the incorporation of parental strategies conducive to the development of a dual identity rather than one that is oppositional toward the dominant culture. Black students who have the requisite skills to fully function in both Black and non-black cultures are better equipped to achieve success in our current political-social environment. Parents play a key role in the socialization process of children that either inhibits or promotes the development a dual cultural identification (McAdoo, 2002). Constantine and Blackmon (2002) found a relationship between the messages that African American parents give to children, perceptions of White institutions, and self-esteem. Fordham s (1996) ethnographic research found that parents of lowachieving students tended to mistrust the dominant culture and had limited positive outcome expectations related to education. LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH Although this study is an important first step, we examined a sharply restricted set of variables that may help explain the school achievement of African American students. Cultural mistrust alone is not sufficient to fully understand the relationship between African American cultural identification and educational achievement motivation. Additional constructs are necessary to develop a valid and comprehensive understanding of sociocultural influences on academic achievement motivation among African Americans. Selfconcept, attributions, and perceptions of stereotype threat are all theoretically important constructs that will guide future research. As well, this sample was limited to male students, and we are acutely aware that African American females have equal, although unique, challenges to success in American society. Thus, our
17 492 URBAN EDUCATION / SEPTEMBER 2005 research must eventually develop a theoretical framework comprising motivational and sociocultural variables that is appropriate for both genders. For example, a measure of cultural frame of reference for appropriate behavior may provide insights into the achievement behaviors of African American students. Earlier research (Fordham, 1996) illustrates that the academic success of many African American youth is constrained by a negative perception of achievement striving. Such behaviors as studying hard, contributing to class discussions, and carrying and reading books are perceived as acting White and thus inappropriate for those who embrace an African American identity (Fordham, 1996). However, other quantitative data suggest that these constraints may operate differentially for males and females (Hudley & Graham, 2001). Measuring an individual s frame of reference for culturally appropriate behavior will allow future research to better specify relationships between achievement beliefs and the sociocultural environment for ethnic minority students. Finally, the inclusion of a measure of ethnic or racial identity will be critical for understanding achievement motivation in context. The process of ethnic/racial identity development may have a significant influence on motivational orientations toward education. For example, recent research on racial self-schemas suggests that African American students who are more in-group orientated are less academically oriented and display lower levels of academic achievement (Oyserman, Kemmelmeier, Fryberg, Hezi, & Hart- Johnson, 2003). Overall, this study is the first step toward developing a model of African American achievement motivation that is powerful enough to account for both personal beliefs and sociocultural influences. Additional research is needed to explore the intersections of African Americans cultural identification, academic achievement motivation, and the sociocultural contexts in which success must be achieved.
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