RESOURCES FOR HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS I
IN SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA
 
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RESEARCH

Results of Survey of Teachers of Language Arts in UNC Pembroke Service Area

Graduate students in ENGS 5720 surveyed 56 teachers of language arts in the UNC Pembroke service area about their beliefs and experiences concerning the teaching of African American literature in order to assess the place of African American literature in high school curricula.

I. Background Information

Of the respondents, 82.1 percent identified themselves as female; 16.1 percent, as male. 1.8 percent did not identify themselves as male or female.

Of the respondents, 78.6% percent identified themselves as white or Caucasian; 8.9 percent, as black or African American; 7.1%, as American Indian or Lumbee; and 5.4 percent as other.

Of the respondents, 91.1 percent reported that they worked in a high school in the UNC-P service area, defined as Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Hoke, Moore, Richmond, Robeson, and Scotland counties in North Carolina. Approximately 1.8 percent reported working outside the service area, and 7.1 percent did not respond or did not know. 14.3 percent of respondents reported that they taught in a Title I-designated school, while 69.6 percent reported that their school was not designated as such. 7.1 percent did not respond or did not know.

Respondents reported having taught an average of 13.6 years.

II. Findings

Nearly 86 percent of all respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they were interested in teaching African American literature. Of these, the majority was white (78.7 percent) and female (83 percent) and had taught an average of 12.0 years. All African American respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they were interested in teaching African American literature. American Indian respondents comprised 4.3 percent of the total of all respondents who reported interest in teaching African American literature.

Approximately 14.5 percent of all respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that they were interested in teaching African American literature. The majority was white (75 percent) and female (75 percent) and had taught an average of 19.1 years. American Indian respondents comprised 25 percent of all respondents who disagreed or strongly disagreed versus 4.3 percent of all respondents who agreed or strongly disagreed. Approximately 62.5 percent of all respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they felt prepared to teach African American literature. Of these, the majority was white (77.1 percent) and female (82.9 percent) and had taught an average of 13.5 years. Eighty percent of all African American respondents and 50 percent of all American Indian respondents reported feeling prepared to teach African American literature. Respondents who reported feeling prepared to teach African American literature averaged 13.5 years of experience.

Only 35.7 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed that they felt prepared to teach African American literature. Of these, 80 percent were white, 10 percent were American Indian, five percent was African American, and five percent was other. Fifteen percent were male, and 85 percent were female. Respondents who disagreed or strongly disagreed averaged 14.9 years of experience.

Nearly 84 percent of all respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their students were interested in studying African American literature. Men were nearly three times more likely than women to disagree or strongly disagree that their students were interested in studying African American literature.

Nearly 59 percent of all respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that they had access to a variety of African American literature for classroom use. Teachers at Title I schools were nearly seven times more likely to report not having access to African American literature for classroom use.

Results of Survey of Students in ENG 2100: "African American Literature: Traditions and Contexts" at UNC-P

Graduate students in ENGS 5720 surveyed 56 teachers of language arts in the UNC Pembroke service area about their beliefs and experiences concerning the teaching of African American literature in order to assess the place of African American literature in high school curricula.

I. Background Information

Fourteen students participated in our survey of students in Prof. Hicks's fall 2008 course, ENG 2100: "African American Literature: Traditions and Contexts."

The average age of participants was 22.1 years old.

42.9 percent of the participants was male; 57.1 percent of the participants was female.

Nine of the 14 respondents (64 percent) reported that they are black or African American; one respondent (7 percent) reported that s/he is Native American; one respondent (7 percent) reported that s/he is white or Caucasian; three respondents (21 percent) did not respond to the question.

35.7 percent of the respondents graduated from a high school in the UNC-P service area.

II. Findings

All respondents reported that they agreed or strongly agreed that they had an interest in African American literature.

78.6 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that African American literature should be taught in high school. Ninety-two percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that African American literature should be taught in college.

Students provided the following comments in response to whether African American literature should be taught in high school:
• “I found there was a lack of variety in literature classes in high school and I would like a more focused classroom study. Not just African American literature, but other multicultural lit classes as well such as Latino lit, etc.”
• “I took AAL in high school. It is a great experience for all people, all ages.“
• “I feel each culture should be taught in some way.”
• “I think it should be taught because American literature is taught so African American literature should be taught.”
• “Yes, because it’s a big part of America’s history and people need to know these things.”
• “Coming from a majority African-American school in Maryland, a literature class on the subject fit with the community. I think it is important to have diversity in class choices.”
• “Have the white and black side of history.”
• “So you know the whole story.”
• “Because we have American history and the Native Americans can talk about that in that, but not many African American heroes are mentioned in high school history books.”
• So that when students[s] start college, some things won’t be such a surprise.”
Three of 14 respondents stated that they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that African American literature should be taught in high school. They provided the following comments:
• “I[t] should[n’t] be taugh[t] because [if it was] taught, you would have to include literature form every other race.”
• “Because in high school students our so diverse it would be leaning to a side to do that. Its like teaching evolution and the Bible in schools.”
• “I think it should be taught because American Literature is taught so African American literature should be taught.”

Eight of 14 respondents reported that they were exposed to African American literature in high school. Of those eight respondents, two reported that they were exposed to African American literature in ninth grade; four, in 10th grade; three, in 11th grade; and three, in 12th grade. Those who strongly agree that African American literature should be taught in high school are much more likely than others to have been exposed to African American literature before college.

Respondents who reported that they were exposed to African American literature in high school stated that 43 percent (nine of 21) of classes that included African American literature were taught by an African American teacher. Twenty-nine percent (six of 21) of classes were taught by a white teacher, respondents reported, and 29 percent (six of 21) of six reported that they could not recall the race or ethnicity of their teacher.

The UNC-P Institutional Review Board reviewed and approved this research, and all participants gave consent to participate.

 
  © 2008 | Last rev. 16 April 2009