Term of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Yasar Bodur

Committee Member 3

Meca Williams-Johnson

Committee Member 3 Email



In today’s public schools, African American males make up only a fraction of the total student population yet they have the highest suspension and expulsion rates (National Forum on Education Statistics, 2011; Scott, Allen, & Lewis, 2014). School districts establish alternative schools to provide opportunities for students displaying difficulties learning in traditional schools. The past several years, online learning programs have been implemented as an additional instructional method to increase academic opportunities for students. This new blended learning program is being used in hopes of providing educational credits to decrease the number of student dropouts in public schools. However, African American males attending alternative schools are directed to participate in these programs upon inception. The purpose of this study is to examine African American male students’ experiences in an online learning program while attending an urban alterative school. This qualitative research study combines critical race theory concept of counter-storytelling with critical phenomenology. It provides students the opportunity to share their stories pertaining to their current academic status and a highly integrated new method of learning and instruction. It also facilitates the conversation of how online learning programs impact African American male students who met academic or behavioral challenges in traditional public schools.

The participants of this study included three African American male seniors who attended an urban alternative high school and one teacher who worked in the same school during this study. Interviews, observations and field notes were used data collection methods. Each student participated in three-part interview sessions to inquire the pathway, which led them to the alternative school, experiences using online learning programs and challenges and benefits of the program. Findings indicate factors contributing to the success of online learning participation include: (1) the environment, (2) teachers, (3) sense of belonging and (4) flexibility of the program. Results from this study could benefit school administrators as they evaluate the effectiveness of online learning programs.

Research Data and Supplementary Material