Places of freedom or entrapment? Black adolescent girls’ school experiences

Heidi Katz, Emmanuel Acquah

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Though research on Black adolescent girls is growing, their lived school experiences have been largely overlooked. In order for schools to effectively provide equitable opportunities and support students’ well-being, the experiences of marginalized students must be more deeply understood. This study foregrounds Black adolescent girls by exploring how five high school students make meaning of their lived school experiences. During one-on-one sessions, participants responded to a brief questionnaire, followed by a narrative prompt and a semi-structured interview where they were asked to share and reflect on their K-12 school history. The data was analyzed through interpretative phenomenological analysis, resulting in five superordinate themes: (1) A lack of support; (2) Put in a box; (3) Recognizing division and othering; (4) Trying to fit in; and (5) Finding community and a sense of self. The findings can inform both policy and practice to improve educational opportunities and student well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Black adolescent girls
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • school experiences
  • educational opportunity
  • intersectionality


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