Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Brenner, Devon G.

Committee Member

Walker, Ryan M.

Committee Member

Anthony, Kenneth V.

Committee Member

Moser, Kelly

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Curriculum & Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Education


Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education


This qualitative study uses the lens of expectation theory to highlight the educational achievements of Cameroonian youths in American educational institutions as it also examines their individual educational experiences and the many challenges (social, cultural, and academic) that each encountered in his or her journey toward significant educational outcomes. Findings from this study challenge the misconception that students coming into the United States other than from Asia and Europe are academically inferior to their counterparts born in the U.S. Six francophone Cameroonian-born young adults between the ages of 19-30 residing in the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan area participated in this study. Each had completed at least one full academic year in an American educational institution. Data collection included virtual interviews with follow-ups carried out via text exchanges and phone conversations. Participants reported experiences language barriers in U.S. education settings. Even students with strong knowledge of English or multiple years in English-speaking classrooms struggled with differences between British/Cameroonian spoken English and American pronunciations and accents. In addition, many students did not feel a sense of belonging in school until they had opportunities to be in classes with or interact with other students that share

a similar background or until teachers recognized their potential. All participants felt a strong sense of parental expectation and were influenced by perceptions of teachers’ expectations. Findings of this study align with previous studies that identified influential factors of educational attainments for immigrant youths including the importance of family expectations, teacher expectations, and students’ sense of self-efficacy. Data also suggest that gender and birth order influence Cameroonian parents’ expectations related to household responsibilities and obligations towards siblings and that both male and female participants equally perceived parental expectations to achieve academically. This study suggests that institutions serving Cameroonian immigrant student, specifically, and immigrant students in general may better serve those students by understanding their needs and the specific barriers they may face. It may be helpful to provide language support, even for students who have strong command of written English, and to create meaningful opportunities to create supportive social networks during the transition to schooling in the U.S.