Janice Epperson Dissertation Final Defense

The College of Education, Health and

Human Sciences

Announces the Final Examination of

Janice Marie Epperson

for the degree of

Doctor of Education

July 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

Ball Hall, University of Memphis

Memphis, TN


Biographical Sketch

B.S., Sec. Education (English), University of TN at Martin

M.S., Administration and Supervision, Trevecca Nazarene University

Advisory Committee

Reginald Green, Ed. D., Professor, Department of Leadership, Committee chair

Larry McNeal, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Leadership, Department Chair

Lou Franceschini, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Department of Leadership

Vivian Gunn Morris, Ph.D., Professor, Instruction and Curriculum Leadership

Major Field of Study

Leadership and Policy Studies

Period of Preparation: 2012 – 2015

Comprehensive Examination Passed: March 2014 (results April 2014)

An Analysis of Principals’ and Teachers’ Understanding

of the Academic Impact of Fifteen Social Perceptions Faced By Black Males




When presented with 15 social perceptions, teachers differed in the extent to which they ranked such perceptions as having the most and least impact on Black male students’ learning as well as in the extent to which they judged these perceptions to be subject to correction. Across all respondents, the perceptions deemed most negative concerned Black males’ reputed propensity for violence and disruption, while those deemed least negative concerned Black males’ alleged tendency to be more church- and religion-oriented than their peers, as well as their reputation for being more athletically gifted than their peers. In terms of these perceptions being correctable, the respondents felt that it was relatively easy to demonstrate that Black males were not less intelligent, less articulate, and less interested in education than their peers of other ethnic groups. To the extent to that the respondents believed that the perception was at least partially grounded in fact—as for example, Black male students being less than optimally “articulate” or “interested in education and self-improvement”—they also recommended specific reform strategies that educators could put in place.

When grouped by position, ethnicity, age, years of experience, highest degree, and level of students served, respondents did not in general differ in how they ranked the perceptions, a noteworthy exception concerning respondent ethnicity and the ones deemed most negative. By ethnicity, there were as many as seven statistically significant differences observed in the most negative rankings of non-White and White respondents, with non-Whites especially concerned about the perception of Black male students as being “innately less intelligent” and “better suited to vo-tech than academic classes” with respect to such students’ success in school.