Narratives of African-American Students: Bringing Diverse Voices into Classrooms

Dorota Celinska


Diverse learners may experience barriers to school success and/or be inappropriately placed in special educationprograms due to the traditional reliance on the deficit-based interpretation of their culture-based language use anddiscourse styles. This study focuses on early adolescents’ narrative discourse, one of the critical linguistic factorslinked to school success. Specifically, it compares personal and fictional narratives of African-American andCaucasian students from two narrative perspectives, one consistent with the prevalent classroom narrativeexpectations (Episodic Analysis) and the other congruent with culturally based narrative styles (High Point Analysis).By broadening the scope of narrative analysis beyond the conventional school-based approach, this study aims atproviding a more culturally appropriate portrayal of narrative skills of African-American students and interpret it incongruence with culturally-based narrative styles. The participants were 82 students of varying levels of academicachievement and socio-economic backgrounds. Narrative performance is analyzed in terms of length, structuralorganization, and overall coherence, followed by examples of specific narrative patterns. The results indicate thatwhen narratives are analyzed using High Point Analysis, African-American and Caucasian students demonstratecomparable performance in terms of the narrative length, structural organization and coherence. In contrast, theresults of narrative analysis using Episodic Analysis that focuses on episodic organization promoted within theconventional school narrative expectations indicate several differences across the groups. The results may supporteducators in their attempts to encourage and facilitate diverse narrative voices in their classrooms, as well asmaximize intellectual and socio-emotional benefits of narrative exchanges for African-American students.

Full Text:



World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

Copyright © Sciedu Press

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders. If you have any questions, please contact: