Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Ingrid Guerra-Lopez


This dissertation is about the stories of African American male undergraduate students who have experienced success in mathematics. Bandura’s (1997) social cognitive theory and Tillman’s (2000) culturally sensitive research approach which promotes qualitative methods, recognizes ethnicity, and positions culture as central to the research were applied. Student interviews, parent interviews, teacher interviews, and mathematical autobiographies were used to investigate African American men self-efficacy, the sources of their beliefs, and societal factors that impacted their motivation and academic achievement in mathematics.

The descriptive portraits and the interviews revealed five broad themes: (1) college experiences, (2) K-12 experiences, (3) access and equity, (4) deficit model, and (5) familial factors. The college experience theme represents four major elements to include African American men perception of their competence in mathematics, the sources they used to build their beliefs in their mathematics abilities during their collegiate careers, their self-regulatory repertoire, and their implicit conception about the nature of their ability. The K-12 theme represents the multiple sources they used to build their self-efficacy in the K-12 academic setting. The access and equity theme represents three major elements to include their exposure to an effective mathematics program, African American male teachers, and culturally responsive teaching. The deficit model represents the impact of negative stereotypes tagged to their social identity. The familial factor theme represents the vital role of parents in the creation and development of their children’s self-efficacy and academic achievement in mathematics.

The findings of this study revealed that the African American male undergraduate students had high self-efficacy and strong self-regulatory repertoires. The data did not reveal a pattern of selection and integration of efficacy-relevant sources among the African American male undergraduate students. Thus, this finding challenged the assumption that self-efficacy is a function of race/ethnicity. The results showed that parental involvement and societal factors impacted the motivation and mathematics achievement of these African American men. This study increases our understanding of African American males’ pathways to confidence in mathematics.