Understanding black males’ access to and perception of academic discourse in an academic probation course



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The purpose of this study was to describe how Black males access and perceive academic discourse when situated in an academic probation class. Recognizing time management, test preparation, and other learning and study strategies as hidden features of the curriculum, the academic probation course addressed these features through explicit instruction to support academic success. Academic discourse was defined as the “discourse that academics use when they publish for other academics” (Elbow, 1991, p.145), meaning academic discourse is reading, writing, and speaking at the university level, including the behaviors and experiences associated with its delivery (Fairclough, 2001; Gee, 1989). The qualitative multiple case study occurred at a small, four-year private university near the heart of a mid-sized metropolitan city in North Texas. Participants consisted of six Black males on academic probation, 18 years old or older. Data collection included semi-structured interviews, observations, and student documents to enable comparison and cross-checking of data over time. Two cycles of open coding produced a codebook and developed themes across the six cases. Individual cases represented each participant’s perceptions of and access to their discursive practices, while cross-case comparisons examined and described common themes across te multiple cases. The study confirmed the participants' view of the benefits of college as providing a foundation for acquiring and negotiating the secondary academic discourse of the university. The participants accessed content through various tools, mainly their cell phones, allowing them agency and ease of connecting home and community practices to academic literacy. The study also suggested that participants’ awareness and practice of time management skills were critical to their access to academic discourse.



Education, Higher