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ERIC Number: ED521391
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 178
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1242-9528-2
Understanding Attitudes and Perspectives of Underperforming African American Males in Middle School Mathematics
Ennis, Bonnie H.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Wilmington University (Delaware)
Despite a history of significant educational advancement since 1954, an overwhelming number of African American males still fall victim to academic underperformance and failure in America's schools. The persistent disparity in performance of African American and White students continues to perplex the American education system, and, in elevating the sense of urgency, experts have pointed to consequences far beyond the classroom door if the issue is not resolved. The purpose of this qualitative research was to explore the attitudes and perspectives of underperforming African American males related to their learning and knowing mathematics. Participants for this study were 14 underperforming African American males in one middle school located in Maryland. The focus of the research was on middle school-aged students in part because of the length of their experiences in school and because students in these grade levels are typically the lowest performing students within this district in the area of mathematics. The school lies in a district where African American males experience achievement difficulties similar to those found nationally and consists of Grades 6-8 with a student population of just fewer than 900 students. This school was chosen because of its large minority population as well as its difficulties with subgroup achievement scores on the state assessment. The school's population is 50% African American, with African American males as its largest subgroup population. The students for this study were purposefully selected based on their long-term difficulties in mathematics as evidenced by poor high stakes state assessment scores over multiple years, low district benchmark scores, and below average report card grades in the area of mathematics. Data were collected from one-on-one interviews, focus group sessions, field notes, student reflective journals, and triangulation of data revealed three major themes. The first theme that emerged was "Students' Mathematics Self-Efficacy." This theme points to the participants' general feeling of success and well being in mathematics classes. The second theme, "Support Systems for Learning Mathematics," emerged with three distinct connected threads: "Peer Supports, Teacher Supports, and Family Supports." The final theme, "The Mathematics," included two threads that surfaced during the coding process. The first thread deals with "Instructional Practices" described by the participants, and the second thread has as its focus the participants' feelings and understandings of the "Relevancy of Mathematics." A number of factors contribute to the success or failure of African American males in middle school mathematics. However, the students in this study all shared several factors in common that may have contributed to their lack of academic success in mathematics thus far. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maryland