An explanatory sequential mixed methods study : solving mathematics word problems among African American students.

Access rights
Worldwide access
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

This explanatory sequential mixed methods study, which consisted of QUAN → to qual investigated the impact of mathematics word problems among African American students in the seventh grade. This study applied a culturally relevant education (CRE) lens to examine how students solve mathematics word problems. Ladson-Billings (1997) and Gay (2018) established the foundational work of CRE, which emphasizes past experiences, cultural understanding, the frame of reference, and diverse performance styles that students use in solving mathematics word problems. This investigation focused on student performance on mathematics word problems, attitudes towards mathematics, and the perceptions of mathematics sentences using the Test of Mathematics Abilities, Third Edition (TOMA-3) instrument (V. L. Brown et al., 2013). Data from the TOMA-3 instrument, along with math perceptions subtests and semi-structured interviews, gave an in-depth perspective of student experiences with solving mathematics word problems. The researcher utilized purposive sampling, with a group of African American students in seventh grade ranging from 13–16 years of age at an urban middle school in southeast Texas. The researcher discovered significant results based on the performances of the TOMA-3 and the participants’ semi-structured interviews. Students scored higher in math computations than mathematics word problems. Students scored higher in the math attitudes section than math computations and mathematics word problems. During the semi-structured interviews, most participants felt confident about their mathematics abilities. The results indicated congruency with high scores in the math attitudes section and confidence in mathematics ability, although the results on the mathematics word problems section of the TOMA-3 were low. The convergence of data also indicated that students experienced difficulty with vocabulary utilized in the mathematics word problem section of the TOMA-3. Student interviews revealed previous experiences with mathematics, limited time, vocabulary, and no learning aids contributed to student frustration with mathematics word problems. The TOMA-3 also revealed that math attitudes among students were above average, although their attitudes towards mathematics word problems differed. There was a non-convergence between student feelings and mathematics scores, indicating that regardless of low or high test scores from the TOMA-3, students felt excitement about the subject of mathematics.

African American Vernacular English. Anglocentric. Culturally relevant education. Ebonics. Ethnolinguistics. Ethnomathematics. Homonyms. Situation. STAAR test. Trends in international mathematics and science studies. Test of Mathematical Abilities (TOMA-3). Mathematics word problems. Math computations. Math attitudes.