The influence of teacher response on African American students' codeswitching

Celeste Minor Bowler, University of Rhode Island


This study examines the relationship between teacher response and African American codeswitching. The main question of this study was, “How does teacher response influence codeswitching of African American high school students?”

The study was conducted in a large urban high school, in two separate college preparatory English classes. The subjects were nine African American students. The Experimental Group consisted of four African American students in one English class. The Control Group consisted of five African American students in the other English class. The same teacher taught both groups of students. Data collected over a five-week period from audiotapes and field notes of classroom observations, teacher interviews, and a pre and post assessment of students' knowledge of Standard English were analyzed.

Quantitative and qualitative methods of data analysis were utilized. Quantitative methods of descriptive statistical analysis included tallying and counting Black English features, the frequency of incidences of Black English, teacher responses to Black English, the context in which Black English is spoken, the participants involved in linguistic interactions, and codeswitching. Quantitative analysis of data also included counting students' responses measuring students' knowledge of Standard English and converting scores into mean scores. Qualitative methods of data analysis included categorizing narrative data from field notes and audiotapes based upon emerging patterns. The narrative data consisted of incidences of African American students speaking Black English in the classroom and incidences of teacher responses to students' use of Black English. Students' responses were categorized based upon the type of linguistic interaction in which they occurred and the participants involved in the interaction.

Findings from the analysis of data suggest teacher response does not appear to influence codeswitching of African American high school students. Possible explanations for this finding include the teacher's inconsistency in responding to students' Black English, the teacher's potential difficulty in performing multiple tasks while responding to students' use of Black English, and students' misunderstandings of teacher's linguistic expectations. Future research in Black English, teacher response, and African American codeswitching is recommended.

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Recommended Citation

Celeste Minor Bowler, "The influence of teacher response on African American students' codeswitching" (2001). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3025533.