A Study of African-American College Students' Attitudes Towards Mathematics

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jose Contreras

Advisor Department



This study examined factors affecting attitudes that students have towards mathematics. The population under this study consisted of African-American males and females enrolled in college algebra classes at an urban public historical black college or university (HBCU) located in the southern United States. Nine of the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitude Scales were used to analyze the attitudes of the 224 participants enrolled in a college algebra class. The nine scales used to measure the students' attitudes were Attitude Toward Success in Mathematics Scale (AS), The Mathematics as a Male Domain Scale (MD), The Mother Scale (M) The Father Scale (F), The Teacher Scale (T), The Confidence in Learning Mathematics Scale (C), The Mathematics Anxiety Scale (A), The Effectance Motivation Scale in Mathematics (F), and The Mathematics Usefulness Scale (U). A multiple linear regression analysis found that 15.3% of student achievement can be explained by the domain scales with confidence being the most influential. It was also found that there does exist a significant difference between the domain scores between African-American males and females. In particular, the male domain, father domain, and confidence domain scores were significantly different from each other when considering gender.