Issues of “Underserved” Racial and Ethnic Groups of People in Education

The article under consideration is the work by one of the most notable authors in the area of educational studies and social and racial inequality in their context. Bensimon (2005) provides the readers with the detailed and well-documented research paper dedicated to the topic of organizational learning as simultaneously the cause of the educational opportunities inequality and the means to overcome the latter. The type of knowledge presented in the article can be viewed as the combination of the normative knowledge supported by the strong theoretical basis and direct research outcomes used to exemplify the points made.

Accordingly, the major topic of the article is the consideration of the main issues of “underserved” racial and ethnic groups of people in their educational opportunities viewed through the perspective of the organizational learning theory. In other words, Bensimon (2005) considers the extent to which the members of the educational organizations, including staff, counselors, etc. can influence the inequality in performance results within different racial and ethnic groups. Thus, the theoretical frame of the article in constituted by the organizational learning theory combined with the concept of cognitive frames that include the diversity, deficit, and equity ones by which “individuals make sense of phenomena” (Bensimon, 2005, p. 101). They are used to denote different attitudes the minority students, African Americans among others, and the public have towards the inequality issues in education.

As for the article details, Bensimon (2005) carries the research out on the setting of the University of Southern California. The sample is a the unnamed number of the staff workers questioned through the method of the inquiry framework designed to clear out the attitudes of the staff towards the diversity and equity in their educational establishment. Data analysis strategies are limited to confirming the hypothesis that the white-dominated institutions simply do not admit the existence of discrimination or lack of diversity in them. The findings by Bensimon (2005) prove this hypothesis to be true and imply that organizational learning is the way to change the attitudes of those authorized to influence students’ performance and on-campus activities.

So, being retrieved from a reputable scholarly journal, this article is a reliable source of information for my research. The ideas raised in this paper are connected to the topic of my study as Bensimon (2005) shows the reasons for the issue that I am to study in my research, i. e. the inequality of educational opportunities based on race and the means to fight this inequality. In my research I plan to consider the role of mentoring and leadership opportunities in solving this problem for the specific group of young black males, and the study by Bensimon (2005) offers a great background to develop the further study of my topic.

The paper by Brown and Dancy (2006) is a rather specific account on the topic of my further research. This paper inquires about the issues that influence the young African American males in their reluctance or inability to graduate, or even to enroll, from the higher educational establishments like colleges and universities. The nature of the paper, i. e. its being a literature review with the additions of statistical data, makes the knowledge presented in it completely normative and research-based. The major topic of this paper, aimed, according to its authors, at making the conversation about the racial educational inequalities more informative, is the consideration of different factors that impact young African Americans in their choices of postsecondary education or rejecting it. The factors discussed are proposed by numerous scholars including Allen (1988), Smedley, Myers, & Harrell (1993) et al.

Drawing from this, the theoretical frameworks of the paper are numerous and based on the ideas of the above mentioned and other scholars. For example, Brown and Dancy (2006) consider the psychological theories by Polite and Davis (1999) who argue about the public stereotyping that attributes the features of being active and rebellious to the black boys which impacts their academic performance negatively as the academia establishes the opposite qualities as the best for students, i. e. quietness, loyalty and dedication to study. There are also other social and cognitive theories explaining the issue, which makes it hard to identify the setting, sample, findings, etc. of the paper as it mainly summarizes the findings made by other scholars in the area. Nevertheless, the value of the work for my research topic is evident from the fact that the paper by Brown and Dancy (2006) provides the background of the previous research on the topic and sees mentoring and leadership initiatives as the field for further study.

The article under consideration is the source of the normative empirical knowledge based on the substantial literature review of the previous research conducted on the topic of the retention of young black males in academia and encouraging their success, and on the research carried out by the author on the sites of the six Midwest Universities, including the University of Illinois, The Ohio State University, etc. The topic of the paper is the examination of the “acting White” hypothesis according to which the low levels of the African American males’ academic performance are explained by the internal racism, i. e. the phenomenon that makes the discriminated race accept its inferiority and condemn any manifestations of belonging to the superior race or culture.

The research was carried out on the sites of the six reputable American universities with the aim of either confirming or rejecting the hypothesis of “acting White”. The sample consisted of 32 high-performing African-American male students and the staff of the campuses of their universities. The findings of the research failed to confirm the hypothesis as the most research respondents reported the complete support they had from their peers and the whole environment in their successful study. Thus, the article turned out to present the viewpoint contradicting to the popular socio-cultural theory of low academic performance of young black males. Being the work by a reputable scholar, this article adds considerably to my research as it touches its topic directly and offers examining the topic from another perspective not dealing with the stereotyping and prejudice in education.

The knowledge possible for obtaining from this article is also normative. It is the combination of the theoretical formulations and their practical objective examples retrieved from the original research carried out by the author and from the research works by other scholars. Thus, the main topic addressed in the article by Harper (2007) is the factors that influence the possibility of retention and positive development of attitudes of the young black males towards postsecondary education and academic success. Among these factors, support of different kinds is viewed as the paramount one. Harper (2007) argues about the family support, peer support, campus support, etc. as the major influences to make young African American males reject the public stereotype and take up the study as the way of personal and career development.

The research itself is mainly based on the review of the previous works on the same topic, as Harper (2007) argues about the hypothesis and proofs presented by Tierney and Hagedorn (2002), McSwain and Davis (2007) in their attempts to explain the role of mentoring and support, both academic and outside, in enhancing the academic progress and overall attitudes towards study among young black males. Accordingly, the article is directly connected with the topic of my research as it exemplifies clearly which hypothesis have already been examined and rejected and which have been confirmed and are in need of further research. For example, the interesting method of studying the personal and in-class papers of the students to clear out their motivations to accept/reject study is an interesting one to develop in my research.

The article considered is the example of the normative and analytic knowledge at the same time. It presents the ideas that are theoretically and practically, through research, supported, but, at the same time, it analyzes the findings and makes its own conclusions. The major questions addressed in the article concern the outcomes, both intended and actual, of the famous case Brown v. Board of Education and their effects upon the educational opportunities of the racially discriminated minorities, and especially African Americans. The theoretical perspective of the work is the idea of social capital as the means of shifting the societal balance in education and the concept of support as the auxiliary tool in achieving the former.

Having been conducted on the sites of such Midwest Universities as University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, and Purdue University, this research used 32 high-achieving (with GPA 3.0 to 4.0) African American males as its sample. The major aim of the research was to establish, at least approximately, the list of policies and techniques the universities and colleges can use to facilitate the academic performance of young black males. According to the findings, any kind of support, financial or encouraging, addressed to the clubs and communities of young black males on campus is an efficient tool in promoting leadership and self-development among African Americans. Mentoring is another policy that universities and colleges can use to change the public stereotype against black males in higher education and shift their position in academia from the one of discriminated to the one of the equal.

The knowledge presented in the article under analysis is purely empirical, but the instances of the normative scholarly knowledge can be observed in it in the form of the references to works of previous researchers who addressed the same topic of heterogeneity among young black males in academia. Accordingly, the main topic of the article is the diversity (used synonymously with heterogeneity by Harper and Nichols (2008) that can be observed within the ethnic and racial groups that are traditionally considered as the single whole without any space for exceptions. The basis of the theoretical framework of the article is the so-called Heterogeneous Race Model used by Harper and Nichols (2008) to answer their research questions about the types of internal diversity among blacks and about the ways in which the diversity impacts their interrelations with the society and within their racial group.

The site of the research consists of three unnamed educational establishments including a religious university, a liberal arts college, and a large research university. 39 young black males were selected as the sample for work in the focus groups and for participation in semi-structured interviews. The findings of this research proved that such an inner black diversity exists, and the majority of respondents refer it to the cultural and familial background of themselves and their peers. The findings also highlighted the prejudice blacks held against diverse groups of African Americans as well as against other races. All these findings imply that the educational disadvantages of young black males are conditioned mainly by the public opinion against higher education and by the within-group prejudice against the race’s diverse representatives. Mentoring and various academic and outside support are viewed by the authors as the main tools for universities and communities to enhance the choice for study among young black men and to promote leadership values in them.

The article under consideration is the source of normative knowledge on the topic of racial inequalities in education. The paper is theoretically based on the ideas of the Equity Scorecard as the concept explaining how institutional learning can provide young black males with more opportunities for education access and making improvements to the attitudes of African American towards higher education. Thus, Equity Scorecard as a means of mentoring and leadership skills promotion among young black men in education is the major topic of the article under consideration: “The opportunity for institutional change lies in the possibility that individual participants will transfer their learning to other contexts within the institution, and in doing so, enable others to learn and to change” (Harris & Bensimon, 2007, p. 83).

The research uses the qualitative method in an attempt to find out the reasons to the fact that young African American men are enrolled in universities and colleges in smaller numbers annually constituting only 4.6% of the whole number of students, and 36% of all black students (with the rest being black females). The implications of the research findings state that Equity Scorecard is an effective means that allows the ones having access to education promote it among those deprived of this access or reluctant to use it due to certain socio-cultural or personal reasons. In this respect, the article is of help for my research as it shows one of the mentoring programs, Equity Scorecard, in its practical implementation.

The knowledge one can obtain from this article is normative, based n the actual statistical data and research findings of such specialists as Harper (2006, 2007), Masey (2005), etc., and shaped into a piece of scholarly work directed at solving one of the most important social problems of today. African American males become more and more reluctant to take up study; moreover, the rates of their graduations decrease annually making scholars wonder how the situation can be improved. This issue is exactly the topic of the article by Schmidt (2008), whose main focus is the number of programs and policies universities of the USA implement to facilitate young black males’ study and graduation.

Considering the African American Male Initiative of the University System of Georgia, the activities of the Lumina Foundation for Education, the Student African American Brotherhood, and many other organizations of the same direction, Schmidt (2008) argues about the great power that mentoring, counseling, and supervising initiatives taken by these organizations have over the increase of the numbers of young black males entering and graduating from the American universities every year. Such organizations are able of showing the black males how attractive the perspectives given by the higher education are. They can also facilitate the breaking of the social stereotypes about the incompatibility of the traditional black males with the rules of educational establishments and the White-dominated society: “A disproportionate number of black males never graduate from high schools,” he says. “We can no longer simply say that is not our problem” (Schmidt, 2008, p. 9). Drawing from this, the article is rather valuable for my research as it presents the issue of young black males in education but also argues about the specific ways to solve this issue.


The articles considered have common and diverse features that allow grouping them in accordance with the basic question the data presented in them can answer. Thus, the works by Harper (2007; 2008) and Harris & Bensimon (2007) explain how colleges and universities can assume sufficient institutional responsibility for engaging Black male students in educationally enriching experiences inside and outside of the classroom. Moreover, the articles by Harper (2007) and Harris & Bensimon (2007) provide data regarding the extent to which mentoring initiative programs impact participants’ adjustment to college, overall success, and grades. Harper (2007) and Schmidt (2008) also manage to answer the question of how institutions can provide a diverse group of faculty and staff through mentoring, academic support, a culturally based curriculum and co-curricular activities when cultivating an environment of academic success for Black males. Bensimon (2005) examines the ways in which it is possible to create a positive climate for under prepared Black males in college. Finally, Harper (2006), Brown & Dancy (2006), and Harper & Nichols (2008) dedicate their works to clearing out what efforts should be considered to enhance the college experience of Black males so that they are academically successful on a campus.


Bensimon, E. M. (2005). Closing the Achievement Gap in Higher Education: An Organizational Learning Perspective. New Directions for Student Services, 131, 99 – 111.