Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Mark Weist


An extant literature has supported the notion that black students perform poorly in comparison to white students on frequently used indicators of academic functioning, known as the academic gap between races. Although previous studies have identified this academic inequity between White and Black high school students, there is a dearth of literature examining the context and processes which may contribute to this gap. The current study further examines this educational disparity by evaluating the role of students’ social functioning, the impact of race, and academic outcomes among at-risk high school students. Although analytical evidence reports a positive correlation between social skills and academic outcomes, very few investigators have evaluated this relationship in tandem with race. This study seeks to investigate the validity of that relationship with specific regard to Black and White students with emotional and behavioral concerns. Although individuals functioning at high social levels have been found to have academic success, it is posited that this relationship may be dependent on student race. Furthermore, research purports that Black students who encounter negative perceptions and interactions within academic settings (e.g., teachers) have been found to be more susceptible to disidentify and disengage from educational achievement. This hypothesis suggests an inverse relationship exists between academic outcomes and social functioning for Black students. Results indicated that race and social functioning had a significant relationship with academic outcomes. Interestingly, despite receiving more punitive academic-related associations, Black students were more cognitively engaged. Implications of disidentification will be discussed.


© 2015, Brian K. Colar