African American Adolescent Development in Context: The Role of Congruence Across Socialization Agents and Settings

Home-school dissonance refers to cultural mismatch in which students feel stress due to perceived differences between existing norms, values and socialization activities in their home and school environments. Home-school dissonance means students feel obligated to dampen culturally-laden behaviors that are salient in their out-of-school environment. As a result, their sense of adequacy, authenticity, and belonging become threatened and they become less likely to succeed in school (Kumar, 2006).

This overarching goal of this study is to advance understanding of home-school dissonance among African American students by addressing two knowledge gaps. First, we know little about social processes that contribute to students’ experience of dissonance. Second, this work examines within-group variability. This is an essential focus to reduce stereotypes and prevent the assumption that ethnic minority groups are culturally homogeneous (Gutierrez & Rogoff, 2003).

Aim 1: Explore the prevalence, meaning, and perceived experience of home-school dissonance in African American adolescents. 

  1. What is the prevalence and variation in home-school dissonance?

  2. What interpersonal and situational factors do adolescents describe in relation to home-school dissonance?

  3. What strategies do African American adolescents employ to address home-school dissonance and negotiate the transition between settings?

Aim 2: Identify the school-level factors and classroom processes contributing to the experience of home-school dissonance among African American students.

  1. To what extent are school-level factors (e.g., size, demographic composition) associated with home-school dissonance?

  2. To what extent are classroom processes (e.g., teacher caring, sense of belonging) associated with home- school dissonance?

This work aligns with Goal 3, “Integrating Diversity” of the Society for Research in Child Development’s strategic priorities by drawing attention to diversity and social justice in schools, with emphasis on: (a) identifying culture-based experiences that African American students have outside school, (b) determining the role of such experiences in formal learning contexts, and (c) understanding the consequences of cultural mismatch.

Project Status


Funding Source

Society for Research Development Small Grants Program for Early Career Scholars