Daily Archives: August 19, 2011

Mathematics & African American Male Students: Noble explores a research path less taken

“The social realities of African American men are far from ordinary and difficulties are abundant. Consequently, their impediments, failures, adversities, setbacks, frustrations, and inequities are exaggerated when compared to women or men of another race or ethnicity. For a group that arguably faces the greatest challenges in education, research should be conducted, and made readily available, that offers practical and comprehensive solutions to defuse the negative perceptions of, what seems, a majority of this group’s members.”

Dr. Richard Noble of the Department of Mathematics is saying those words and taking his own advice in “Mathematics Self-Efficacy and African American Male Students: An Examination of Two Models of Success,” published in the Journal of African American Males in Education (Summer 2011, Volume 2, Issue 2).

Noble notes that there’s no shortage of documentation of the failures of young African American men, but far less on those who have success in academic settings (although the literature on that point is growing).  His article explores the personal stories of African American men who excelled in mathematics to understand the impact of their self-efficacy beliefs on their motivation and later academic achievement in math at the postsecondary level.

Conclusion: “General analyses of autobiographies and interviews revealed that enactive attainment and vicarious experience were influential sources for these African American men’s self-efficacy beliefs and were supported by family, friends, and peers.”

Going beyond that overall finding, Noble’s work finds vicarious experience appeared to be a stronger force with the men he studied, which supports some previous findings and may differ from others.

ERC gets another $4 million and five more years

The National Science Foundation has informed the Engineering Research Center that it will fully fund the ERC’s $4 million request for fiscal 2012.  On top of that, the agency’s rave review of the ERC’s first three years has resulted in the likely extension of the project for at least three years beyond the ERC’s original five-year horizon.

The Business Journal has all the details at the top of the front page of this week’s edition (available in print and to subscribers on the newspaper’s website).  A news release from the university also has the details.