A Phenomenological Study Of Mathematics Meaning: A Possible Factor Affecting The Mathematics Achievement Of African-American Male High School Students
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentMathematics and Science Education Program
ProgramDoctor of Education
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The purpose of this study was to examine the mathematics meanings that are held by higher- and lower-performing African-American male high school students. Meaning in this context was defined as a set of dispositions that included, but were not limited to, values, beliefs, attitudes, feelings, and interests. Using worldview theory as the conceptual lens, this study sought to examine the life experiences of six 11th and 12th grade students and how these experiences influence their mathematics meanings. In addition, this study examines the influence these meanings had on their mathematics performance and persistence. Conducted within the methodological framework of phenomenology, this study describes the essence of the lived experiences of African-American male high school students. In order to explore their lived experiences in schools, in their homes and communities, this study used transcripts of approximately 75 hours of classroom observations and interviews as the data corpus. In the interviews, these six African-American males were prompted to talk about aspects of their world and where mathematics is situated within that world. Their responses were then analyzed for individual and shared meaning among the participant group. The reporting and analysis of the data revealed that experiences, such as student-teacher interactions, peer influences, and role models, served as the most influential factors impacting mathematics meaning for these African-American males. The findings of this study also suggest that meanings were not predictably associated with their performance and persistence in mathematics. Social and cultural factors intervened to mediate their performance and persistence in mathematics. The data made it evident that the participants' individual life experiences and cultural portrayals of what it means to be African American and male dictated their mathematics-related behaviors inside and outside the classroom.