Abstract

VIVIAN ROBINSON MOODY
Giving Voice to African Americans Who Have Been Successful With School Mathematics
(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 experiences.

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 school mathematics.


INDEX WORDS: African Americans, Critical Theory, School Mathematics, Success, Voice

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