Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Lohman, David

Second Advisor

Henfield, Malik

First Committee Member

Ankenmann, Robert

Second Committee Member

Foley-Nicpon, Megan

Third Committee Member

Croft, Laurie


Academic performance may be understood as the accumulation of interactions among several variables over time in specific situations. Aptitude theory describes cognitive ability, motivation, and personal affect as key variables in the explanation of performance. Racial identity may be another essential variable in explaining academic achievement for non-white students. Racial identity is described as the importance and understanding that African American students ascribe to belonging to a Black racial group in a society that is dominated by non-Black members. Investigating how the factors of racial identity (private regard, public regard, and racial centrality) are associated with the other key variables of performance may provide unique opportunities to support African American students in improving academic performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships among the racial identity variables, academic intrinsic motivation, perceived school support, and academic achievement for African American students. This study was conducted with students (N=56) grades 11 and 12, from two schools in a single Midwestern metropolitan district. Students completed questionnaires to provide data regarding their perceptions of school support, academic intrinsic motivation, and racial identity. The school provided information regarding grade point average, number of advanced placement courses taken, and sixth grade standardized test scores. Hierarchical linear regression models were tested to investigate whether the racial identity factors moderated the relationships between academic intrinsic motivation and perceived school support on grade point average or the number of advanced placement courses taken when prior academic achievement was controlled. Significant interactions were found between racial centrality and perceived school support on academic intrinsic motivation. Significant interactions were also found for racial centrality and private regard moderating the relationship between academic intrinsic motivation and the number of advanced placement courses taken when prior academic achievement was controlled. The findings of this study suggest that racial centrality and private regard may be important for students with lower levels of academic intrinsic motivation and lower perceived school support. These students may benefit from interventions that support feeling positive about being Black and recognize the importance of race in students' self-concepts.


academic achievement, motivation, racial identity, school support


viii, 143 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 98-107).


Copyright 2011 Antonia Maria Kennedy Szymanski