The psychosocial factors contributing to the underrepresentation of African American males in advanced high school mathematics courses

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Rowlett, Joel Everett
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Middle Tennessee State University
This case study examined the beliefs of African American males on the psychosocial and pedagogical factors contributing to the underrepresentation of African American males in advanced high school math courses. Six 11th grade African American male juniors from a large, comprehensive, Southeastern high school served as individual cases. Within- and cross-case analyses were used to determine similarities and differences among the cases. Review of literature findings indicated that psychosocial factors, such as the stigma of "acting White," racism and stereotype threat, teachers' low expectations for minorities, and a lack of African American male educators are ever-present barriers to math success for African American male. The Eurocentric school model that is pervasive in our nation's schools establishes numerous, ingrained obstacles for success: the tracking of African American males into lower level math classes; ineffective, traditional pedagogical practices; and a cultural disconnect between European and African values. This study revealed several barriers to African American males' taking advanced math courses: their parents' being uninvolved in their course-taking decisions; lack of communal learning experiences; and a lack of encouragement from their teachers and guidance counselors. Contrary to participants' responses from prior studies, these participants revealed that the effects of racism and stereotype threat on their math journeys were minimal. The participants were highly motivated by competition and math games.
Keywords: advanced math, African American males, culture, Eurocentric, mathematics, pedagogy, peer influence, psychosocial, STEM
Advanced mathematics courses, African American males, Case study research, European school model, Mathematics education, Racism and stereotype threat