Date of Award

5-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Engineering and Science Education

Advisor

Hazari, Zahra S

Committee Member

Potvin , Geoffrey D

Committee Member

Cooper , Melanie M

Committee Member

Moss , William F

Abstract

The Black-White achievement and participation gap in mathematics is a major concern for educators in America. In order to understand why these gaps exist and have continued to exist over the years, it is important to identify some of the factors that may contribute to them. However, one of the limitations in identifying factors that influence the disparities in achievement and participation between Black and White students is the issue of finding comparable and representative groups.
This study aspired to move beyond randomized experimental designs to studying a larger representative sample of Black college students who are equivalent to White college students on a number of factors hypothesized to impact achievement and participation in mathematics. Covariates dealing with socioeconomic status, family support, and academic preparation were considered in an attempt to understand the collective and isolated effects of external factors on the performance and representation disparities between Black and White college students. College calculus performance was chosen as an outcome of interest due to its role as a gatekeeper for STEM majors and careers. The likelihood of choosing a career in a STEM field was chosen as the other outcome of interest.
Results indicated that although Black students are performing significantly worse than White students in college calculus, after comparing Black students to White students with similar backgrounds, the gap between the two groups decreased to a statistically non-significant difference. Also, it was found that after comparing similar groups of Black and White students, Black students were more likely to report choosing a career in a STEM field.

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