Cultural Knowledge in African American Children Purpose: This study sought to determine whether typically developing African American children’s culturally based mainstream and ethnocultural knowledge increased between grades four and six. Because a lack of mainstream cultural knowledge has been implicated in reduced reading comprehension among many African American children, this study also investigated the degree to ... Clinical Forum
Clinical Forum  |   January 01, 2003
Cultural Knowledge in African American Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Angela C. Bradford
    The University of Memphis, School of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, 807 Jefferson, Memphis, TN 38105.
  • Joyce L. Harris
    The University of Texas at Austin
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: abradfrd@memphis.edu
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Clinical Forum: Literacy Issues in Multicultural Populations
Clinical Forum   |   January 01, 2003
Cultural Knowledge in African American Children
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, January 2003, Vol. 34, 56-68. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2003/006)
History: Received July 31, 2002 , Accepted October 7, 2002
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, January 2003, Vol. 34, 56-68. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2003/006)
History: Received July 31, 2002; Accepted October 7, 2002

Purpose: This study sought to determine whether typically developing African American children’s culturally based mainstream and ethnocultural knowledge increased between grades four and six. Because a lack of mainstream cultural knowledge has been implicated in reduced reading comprehension among many African American children, this study also investigated the degree to which ethnocultural and mainstream cultural knowledge differed.

Method: Fifty-eight African American children in grades four, five, and six responded to the Test of Core Knowledge (Bradford & Harris, 2000), a divergent task that required free associations about topics drawn from both mainstream and African American history, arts, and news events. Responses were audiotape-recorded, orthographically transcribed, and analyzed for accuracy and quantity of information.

Results: Participants’ knowledge of both mainstream and African American cultural items increased significantly between grades four and five and their knowledge of history, news events, and African American arts increased significantly between grades four and six. Additionally, significant differences were found between grades five and six for mainstream and African American news events.

Clinical Implications: This sample of African American children demonstrated mainstream cultural knowledge that often surpassed ethnocultural knowledge. Such broadbased mainstream cultural knowledge meets academic expectations and can be used to facilitate further development of language and reading comprehension skills. However, this finding also suggests the need for future investigations of the relationship between mainstream cultural knowledge and literacy, bicultural knowledge in African American children from lower socioeconomic status and/or more ethnocentric backgrounds, and bicultural knowledge in those children who have language and reading comprehension deficits.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This work was supported by a grant from the Offices of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, U.S. Department of Education Grant #5-33272, in conjunction with the Language and Cognitive Aging Lab under the direction of Dr. Joyce L. Harris, The University of Memphis. The authors would like to thank Versa Johnson of the Peabody School and Dr. and Mrs. Lee R. Brown and Dr. Brenda Gallagher of the Memphis City School Board for their cooperation in the completion of this study.
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