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An achievement gap exists between African American students and their white classmates. Research suggests one reason for this may be the language barrier they face as speakers of African American Vernacular English. The research question that guided this study was, Can I, through action research, improve my teaching of African American students by engaging with them in a contrastive study of African American Vernacular English and Standard American English, resulting in their acquiring greater proficiency in SAE as well as the ability to choose appropriately between AAVE and SAE in their written narratives? Sixteen sixth grade African American students participated in an ethnographic study of AAVE, contrasted it with SAE, and had the opportunity to choose appropriately between the two in writing assignments. The results of the study suggest improvement in teaching, resulting in improvement in the students' use of standard past tense formations, and their increased willingness and ability to appropriately use AAVE in their written narratives.