Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Dr. David W. Stinson - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Joyce E. King

Third Advisor

Dr. Brian A. Williams

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Lou E. Matthews


The research literature regarding African American male college students reports that they often experience difficulties with mathematics (Stage & Kloosterman, 1995; Treisman, 1992). It is also reported that many African American students enter college seeking to complete their degrees in mathematics and science, but few of these students successfully complete the core requirements (Hrabowski, Maton, & Greif, 1998; Treisman, 1992). In spite of these reported trends, there are some African American male students who, indeed, achieve in college mathematics. The purpose of this study was to analyze how being African American and male might play out in the college mathematics experiences of high-achieving African American men. Employing qualitative research methodology, specifically, multiple case study research (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007; Merriam, 1998) situated in critical race theory (CRT; Bell, 1992; Tate, 1997), I administered a survey instrument, conducted three interviews, and solicited artifacts from four African American men who are currently pursuing graduate degrees in mathematics or mathematics education. Coupling multiple case study research with CRT, I explored how they gained access to college mathematics, how they achieved in college mathematics, and how their race and/or racism affected their performance in mathematics. An analysis of the data revealed that the participants’ achievement and persistence in mathematics was explained, in part, by the participants’ (a) internal characteristics such as strong cultural identities as African American men, persistent attitudes, and spiritual connections; (b) ability to negotiate racial injustices as African American men; (c) positive mathematics identities developed as undergraduate mathematics majors at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs); and (d) positive outlooks concerning the participation of African American male students in mathematics. Findings from the study suggest that methodological and theoretical approaches that foreground race and utilize “voice” must be employed in mathematics education research, especially regarding African American male students. Furthermore, findings suggest that those invested in the mathematics education of African American male students should ensure that African American male students are granted access to mathematics, including at the collegiate level.


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