Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education


Special Education

First Committee Member

Kyle Higgins, Chair

Second Committee Member

Nancy Sileo

Third Committee Member

Susan Miller

Graduate Faculty Representative

Randall Boone

Number of Pages



Resiliency is a concept that has been discussed in the fields of anthropology, psychology, sociology, and education for over 30 years. Most authors define resiliency as the ability to triumph over adversity. The term associated with children/youth who rise above negative situations is resilient. A subgroup of students who are disproportionately affected by negative perceptions from society and who often find themselves in negative situations are African American children/youth. It appears that these students encounter less social fit in school, have a higher propensity for at-risk behavior, and experience less favorable academic and social outcomes.

This study involved a Delphi inquiry concerning the characteristics of resiliency with a large group of African American parents (n=240). The parents in this study were considered experts in resiliency if they graduated from high school and had at least one child who graduated from high school. Through a series of three Delphi surveys, the parents moved toward agreement concerning what they perceived to be the most important characteristics of resiliency that contributed to their success and the success of their child and those that hindered their success and the success of their child (internal and external). Data obtained from rounds were analyzed using descriptive statistics and qualitative analysis.

Over the course of the three Delphi surveys, six categories (spiritual/faith, positive/negative personal traits, family involvement/problems, positive/negative educational supports, inappropriate behaviors, and lack of resources) emerged as the main characteristics of resiliency defined by the participants as contributing to or hindering the success of the participants and their children both internally and externally. The six categories were related to the five research themes (questions) posed in the study (individual characteristics, relationship characteristics, community characteristics, cultural characteristic, and physical ecology characteristics). Thus, for this group of African American parents there was agreement that resiliency can be defined by one's spiritual/faith, personal traits, family involvement, educational supports, inappropriate behaviors, and a lack of resources.


African American children; African American parents; Delphi method; Problem youth; Resilience (Personality trait); Special education


Child Psychology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Personality and Social Contexts | Special Education and Teaching

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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