Title page for ETD etd-0605103-202818

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Haj-Broussard, Michelle Georgette
Author's Email Address mhajbr1@lsu.edu
URN etd-0605103-202818
Title Language, Identity and the Achievement Gap: Comparing Experiences of African-American Students in a French Immersion and a Regular Education Context
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Curriculum & Instruction
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Denise Egéa-Kuehne Committee Chair
Ann Trousdale Committee Member
Charles Teddlie Committee Member
Nina Asher Committee Member
Paul Hoffman Dean's Representative
  • bilingual education
  • foreign language education
Date of Defense 2003-03-21
Availability unrestricted
The Black/White Achievement gap has been a persistent problem in education. Previous research attributed this gap to students' culture (Jenks & Phillips, 1998; Ogbu, 1995a.b) or teachers' expectancy (Rist, 1970). Post-colonial literature suggests that this research itself is oppressive, and that learning is negotiating the "spaces" between students and teachers (Ellsworth, 1997); creating a hybrid "mestiza" space (Anzaldúa, 1987). The openness of immersion to diversity, and its subsequent educational benefits for African-American students (Caldas & Boudreaux, 1999) conforms to this post-colonial perspective.

This mixed-methodology study examined both academic achievement and the experiences of Louisiana fourth grade students/teachers in both the regular education and the French immersion contexts. The quantitative phase compared these students' LEAP test scores. The qualitative phase was a cross-case comparison of four classrooms--an extreme class (90% of the school population in poverty) and a typical class (African-Americans of average academic achievement) in each context.

Quantitative findings were that while there was a bridging of the achievement gap between the LEAP math scores of African-American immersion students and those of white students in regular education, the gap remained amongst immersion students. The qualitative phase found the regular education classroom was found to be a more fixed and assimilating context than immersion. Further, immersion students had higher collective self-esteems and a more positive view of schooling. Though Typical Immersion appeared to create a hybrid third space, the regular education context in which immersion programs were situated appeared to negatively influence these programs.

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