The Literacy Beliefs and Practices of Highly Educated African American Mothers


Jorien Bowens

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Curriculum and Instruction

Date of Award

Spring 2015


It is well understood that parents play a particularly crucial role in children's educational success. Mother's education is often used for its predictive value in how children will fare in school. Although information exists regarding the mother's role in a child's education and literacy development, literature addressing the African-American mother and her family often centers on low-income and less educated mothers. Middle class African-American mothers with higher educational attainment are often left out in the literature. This phenomenological study begins to address the African-American mother and family that have not been included in scholarly education literature by investigating and describing the essence of the literacy beliefs and practices of these mothers. Three research questions investigated mother's beliefs, actions, and impact of the mother's mother on her beliefs and actions. Research questions were answered through 15 themes that emerged from data analysis. The belief themes were: literacy starts at home, support of school learning, provide resources and support, and deliberate involvement. The actions themes were: literacy interactions, taking advantage of literacy teaching and learning opportunities, encouragement, setting expectations, provision of resources and a home environment conducive to literacy development, restriction of less constructive activities in favor of academic/literacy activities, engaging in and modeling literacy behaviors, church literacy, and partnership with school and prioritizing education. The themes for impact of the mother's mother: active participation or non-participation in daughter's literacy development, provision of resources, modeling of literacy behavior, and setting expectations for literacy and prioritizing education and literacy. Implications and recommendations for future research are included.


Jennifer Sennette

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education