Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Walter L. Burt

Second Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Third Advisor

Dr. Kelley A. Peatross


African American mothers, urban high school, single mothers, African American daughters


African American female students in urban schools are not graduating from high school at the same rate as females of other ethnic groups (Bucknor, 2015; Martin & Halperin, 2006; Stillwell & Sable, 2013). This study sought to investigate the voices and lived experiences of single-headed households of African American mothers whose daughters graduated from high school within the traditional four-year schedule. Through the voices and lived-experiences of these African American mothers, this study sought to capture the impact certain internal and external support systems from within both the home and school environments had on their daughters’ persistence in graduating from high school within the traditional four-year time period.

This phenomenological study involved 13 African American mothers whose daughters attended two urban Midwestern high schools. Participating mothers had daughters who were 17 years of age, or older, and had graduated from high school, or were eligible to graduate from high school within a four-year time period.

In conducting this qualitative study, an interview protocol was developed to capture the reflections and lived experiences of the 13 participants. Additionally, a demographic questionnaire and an in-depth face-to-face interview were also conducted with willing participants. Data were compiled and analyzed into a manageable system for synthesis and analysis by using a qualitative analysis procedure. The data generated allowed this investigator to organize the data into notes, key documents, tabular materials, narratives, and audio files (Baxter & Jack, 2008). These data files enabled the investigator to answer the research questions posed in this study.

The findings in this study suggested that single African American mothers utilized various strategies that helped to support their daughters’ timely graduation from high school. These strategies included such activities as (a) recognizing the challenges of raising daughters as a single parent; (b) creating an environment of balance, (c) keeping daughters safe from predators, (d) minimizing, to the extent possible, negative influences from peer pressure, (e) helping daughters with developing a sense of “self-worth,” (f) not allowing mothers’ jobs to affect their relationship; (g) working not to allow fathers’ absence to affect daughters’ self-esteem.

The study concludes by offering recommendations to individuals who wish to pursue further research in this area.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access