Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Julie McCann, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Lori Sanchez, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Daniel Sheppard, Ed.D.


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to capture the essence of experience as at-risk African American males engaged in online credit recovery coursework. In specific, the research questions reviewed what supports were needed and what strategies were employed by research participants in order to be successful in the alternative learning environment. The ultimate goal was course completion. The reader is afforded the opportunity to view these experiences through the lens of the microsystem and macrosystem. These systems were a part of Bronfenbrenner’s (1989) Ecological Systems Theory. Critical Race Theory (Delgado & Stefancic, 2012) and the Self-Regulatory Theory (Zimmerman, 1989) were interconnected in the dominant Ecological Systems Theory for the reader to understand how these systems influenced the behavior of at-risk African American males.

In depth one-on-one interviews were conducted as the primary method of data collection. The interpretative phenomenological approach during data analysis yielded findings that revealed supportive environments were prevalent in the home, classroom, and school settings. These supportive environments were catalyst, coupled with research participants’ intrinsic motivation, for self-developed strategies and self-regulatory habits to be employed. Moreover, results revealed the at-risk African Americans males were resilient and strived to overcome previous obstacles that were once barriers to achievement.

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