Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Teaching and Learning

Committee Chair

Karp, Karen, 1951-

Author's Keywords

African American students; Mathematics; Minorities and mathematics; Mathematics anxiety; Self-efficacy; Mathematics students


African American high school students; High school girls; Academic achievement; Mathematics--Study and teaching (Secondary)


The underachievement of African American students in the mathematics classroom and the underrepresentation of African Americans in advanced mathematics courses and mathematics related career fields has been a concern for the mathematics education community for many years. The objective of this research was to investigate the perceptions and mathematical experiences of seven African American female high school students who were on a continuum from succeeding at high levels to struggling in mathematics. These particular African American females were eleventh and twelfth grade students enrolled at a career and technical high school located in the Midwestern United States of America. This study utilized a phenomenological research design to get a true depiction of the participant's perceptions of their mathematical experiences. Purposeful sampling was used to select the seven research participants. Of the seven African American female research participants in grades 11-12 interviewed, three were successful, two were middle performing, and two were not persisting and achieving in the mathematics classroom. Also, to triangulate the data, the investigator interviewed the two mathematics teachers of the research participants. A quantitative analysis of existing data, mathematics autobiographies (Berry, 2002) and Fennema-Sherman Attitude Scale (1976) survey results, was also used in this study_ Implications from this research study include: (1) Mathematics teachers must provide opportunities for African American female students to become autonomous learners constructing their own knowledge; (2) Mathematics students must be taught how to problem solve and think independently in the mathematics classroom; (3) Mathematics teachers must connect the mathematics being taught in their classrooms to the mathematics involved in the students' career and technical programs; and (4) Mathematics teachers must find ways to increase the confidence of African American students in the mathematics classroom and reduce their Anxiety.