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Examining Factors of Success in Math: A Case Study of African American Males' Math Achievement

Darla R Kelberlau-Berks, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study examined the complex topic of the Achievement Gap that exists with many African American male students. Parting company with previous studies of the under-achievement of African American students, this study considered factors that have led to success in high school math achievement by listening to the voices of six African American male students. Using in-depth individual interviewing as a methodology, the study investigated the students’ perspectives on the impact of the teacher, instructional strategies, and the students’ own beliefs about their math abilities. The following themes were found to be significant to the success of these six African American males: a) Factors related to self (including ideas related to attitude towards math, view of own mathematical abilities, and the role of race). b) Factors related to the teacher (including engaging learning tasks, positive classroom environment, and a display of care for students). c) Factors related to the support of learning (including access to help, involvement in school, and other supporting adults). Contrary to other research findings, the role of race was not clearly identified as a significant factor.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|African American Studies|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Kelberlau-Berks, Darla R, "Examining Factors of Success in Math: A Case Study of African American Males' Math Achievement" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3715375.