Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education


College of Education and Human Services

Subject Headings

African Americans, Mathematics, Mathematics Education, Secondary Education


This interpretive qualitative study explored African American urban public high school graduates’ experiences concerning mathematics, how these experiences may play a role in the choice to further their mathematics education, and how the Model of Academic Choice (MAC) may facilitate in the understanding of the experiences.

It examined the lived experiences of seven African American urban public high school graduates concerning their mathematics education. Through criterion-based sampling, the seven participants selected had graduated from a public high school located in Northeast Ohio school districts having similar characteristics.

Data were collected through semi-structured interviews that explored participants’ kindergarten through post-secondary mathematics experiences. Vignettes chronicled each of the participants’ mathematics experiences and an analysis of emerging themes from within and across vignettes were presented.

The emerging themes were tediousness in learning mathematics, student engagement in the classroom, educational trajectory, reality check regarding the effectiveness of one’s kindergarten through grade twelve experiences in preparation for college, persistence, classroom environmental conditions, feelings about learning mathematics, behaviors resulting from feelings about learning mathematics, expectations of self and others, attributions of success and/or failure, one’s sense of self as a student and one’s self-concept of ability in mathematics. These themes parallel with the MAC constructs of cost, participant’s task specific beliefs, participant’s goals and general self-schemata, past events and related experiences, persistence, cultural milieu, affective reactions and memories, expectancies, participant’s interpretation of past events, and self-concept of ability, respectively. The MAC proved to be a good theoretical framework for explaining the participants’ experiences.

The results of this study may be instrumental in having educators and policy makers alike reflect upon their practices to improve the academic outcomes of African Americans in mathematics education. This research contributes additional lived experiences of African Americans to the bank of qualitative research to help in understanding factors that may promote or hinder the participation of African Americans in STEM-related courses.