Date of Award

Spring 5-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education & Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Edward Duncanson, EdD

Second Advisor

Joseph Aina, PhD

Third Advisor

Dudley Orr, EdD

Abstract

This study investigated the characteristics and challenges of high-achieving second- generation Nigerian youths in the United States. An increasing number of youths in America’s schools are from immigrant backgrounds due to the flow of immigration from Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Given the local and national mandates to improve the academic achievement of all children, we cannot afford to leave any group behind.

Although research on immigrant children from Asia and Latin America and their adaptation and schooling has increased in the last two decades, the educational experiences of Black immigrant children from Africa and the Caribbean have been understudied. The scant research on African immigrants lumps all Africans into a homogeneous group despite the different experiences and obvious diversity found within Africa and among African immigrants. Using theoretical triangulation from Educational Anthropology (cultural ecological theory), Sociology (Social capital), and Psychology (social cognitive theory), the researcher examined the role of parents, personal traits, and social contexts on the academic experiences of high-achieving second-generation Nigerian youths.

The study used surveys, in-depth interviews of Nigerian youths and parents (mothers) and a focus group interview of high-achieving second-generation Nigerian youths to explore the academic experiences of high-achieving second-generation Nigerian youths to identify factors that determine their educational outcomes. It is anticipated that the results of this study will contribute to the literature on immigrant, minority, and Black students’ education in the United States.

High-achieving second-generation Nigerian youths credited their parents, extended family, the Nigerian community, and their upbringing for their motivation and academic success. Nigerian parents were actively engaged with the education of their children, both in the traditional realms of school involvement and in the non-traditional school engagement. Although youths faced the challenges of peer teasing, under-preparation for college, and parental pressure, they devised coping strategies through code-switching, reevaluating their definition of academic success, and increasing determination and effort. They also were involved in several extracurricular activities that helped them to create social networks with peers and adults and to break social barriers.

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