Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Christine D. Thomas, Ph. D

Second Advisor

Tisha Lewis Ellison, Ph. D.

Third Advisor

Desha L. Williams, Ph. D.

Fourth Advisor

Joseph R. Feinberg, Ph. D.


A disturbing epidemic in the United States is there are too few African American males that graduate from high school and go on to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) (Harper, 2012). An explanation as to why this is so may reside in their experiences while in high school. By using attribution theory as a theoretical framework, this study allowed its participants to identify those events that led them to pursue STEM degrees as undergraduates. Applying a phenomenological case study as a methodology uncovered the essence of the phenomenon of four African American males’ lived experiences in secondary mathematics who went on to pursue STEM degrees as undergraduates: self-confidence. Other important factors that where identified but were not the essence include happiness, financial aid, college preparatory activities, the role of influential teachers, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics themed secondary schools and religion.