Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Educational Administration


Educational Administration

Major Professor

Elizabeth Jeffers

Second Advisor

Brian Beabout

Third Advisor

Christopher Broadhurst

Fourth Advisor

Steven L. Nelson

Fifth Advisor

Rashida Govan


Despite a narrowing trend over the past forty years, the racial academic performance gap between non-Asian-American minority students and European-American students remains an overarching issue in K-12 schooling according to the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis (2017). Du Bois’s (1903) theory of double consciousness is implicated in the performance gap phenomenon. Though not explicitly connected, Steele and Aronson’s 1995 study revealed stereotype threat (STT) to be an empirical explanation of the negative impact of double consciousness. Steele et al.’s study revealed a psycho-social contributor to the racial academic performance gap, STT. STT is characterized by performance suppression caused by the fear of fulfilling a negative stereotype or the fear of being judged based on a negative stereotype attributed to one’s social identity group. The activation of this phenomenon is related to identity threatening cues, a systemic issue laden in the academic environment (Purdie-Vaughns, Steele, Davies, Ditlmann, & Crosby, 2008). To date, over 300 studies have been conducted on STT according to a meta-analysis conducted by Pennington, Heim, Levy, and Larkin (2016). Though certain experimental studies featuring mentoring as a vehicle for shifting stereotype narratives have yielded useful practices for STT reduction (Good et al., 2003), qualitative design, which is seldomly employed in the STT field, may produce an understanding of the phenomenon that is not possible through a deductive approach (Ezzy, 2002; van Kaam, 1966). The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore African-American adolescent student perceptions of the impact that mentoring has on their schooling experiences while under STT conditions. The findings of this study demonstrated that African-American adolescents perceived mentoring to positively impact their schooling experiences and helped them to cope with STT activating cues in the environment. The participants discussed structural aspects of the relationships, personality attributes of the mentor, and specific mentor guidance. Participants also discussed a documented STT intervention that fell outside of the parameters of their mentoring relationships that positively impacted their schooling experiences and abilities to cope with STT cues – affirmations (Cohen, Garcia, Apfel, & Master, 2006; Walton et al., 2012). Recommendations for practice and future research are presented.


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