Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences

First Advisor

P B. Uhrmacher, Ph.D.


African American, Mathematics, Persistence, Predominantly black institution, Undergraduate


The under-representation of Blacks in mathematics related professions stems from an American educational system of inequity. Many Black students, including a substantial proportion of those who enroll at Predominantly Black Institutions, attend elementary and secondary schools in under-resourced districts with limited access to quality teachers and rigorous, culturally-relevant instruction that would adequately prepare them for college attainment in mathematics.

The primary research question guiding this study was: What are the challenges and opportunities associated with building and sustaining a successful mathematics degree program at an under-resourced Predominantly Black Institution? Concurrently, this interpretive case study examined and documented the experiences of four graduates from one of these programs by means of in-depth phenomenological interviews. The three 60- to 90-minute interviews focused on life history, the college experience, and a reflection on the meaning of that experience.

The participants' counternarratives were abstracted into three overarching themes which contributed to persistence and success: (1) people who cared, (2) sense of belonging, and (3) personal agency. The findings and themes from this study suggest that the challenges and opportunities are interconnected, and a successful mathematics degree program relies on the integrity of its community to creatively use its limited resources, and to recruit students and faculty from within to help teach one another and intentionally build a cycle of excellence.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Lauren E McKittrick


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

280 p.


Education, Mathematics education