VIVIAN ROBINSON MOODY
Giving Voice to African Americans Who Have Been Successful With School
(Under the direction of PATRICIA S. WILSON)
This is the story of two African American female college students who have
been successful with school mathematics. The students' success was framed
in the context of their schooling and mathematical experiences. Operating
on the premise that African American students' voices have been ignored
or silenced, the metaphor of voice was used as the basis of the study. This
study gave the participants the opportunity to speak for themselves about
their perceptions of and responses to their experiences.
This study employed a phenomenological research strategy. Phenomenological
research describes subjective experience of individuals (Tesh, 1984, 1987).
It is aimed at interpretive understanding and describes individual experiences
from the viewpoint of the individual (Tesh, 1984). Data were collected in
the form of initial surveys, autobiographies, and interviews. Data were
analyzed using the strategy of constant comparative analysis (Strauss, 1987).
This study took a critical theory stance in that it placed the students'
schooling and mathematical experiences in a broader social context. Critical
theory was used to explicate the social constructs of the students' experiences.
The data suggest that social forces such as inequalities and inequities
existing in society were evident in the students' schooling and mathematical
The students perceived their schooling and mathematical experiences differently.
The data suggest that the students' perceptions of their experiences played
a significant role in the responses they engendered, and those responses
were key components in becoming successful with school mathematics. However,
the dissonance of the students' voices suggest a need to be attuned to individual
African American voices.
The students' stories raise concerns about particular schooling practices
such as tracking and traditional mathematics teaching that were oppressive
for them as African American students. Their stories also engender hope
due to the support of caring educators and African American mathematics
teachers who served as role models and contributed to their success with
INDEX WORDS: African Americans, Critical Theory, School Mathematics, Success,