For MLK Day, studies from N.C. A&T researchers on how to address two persistent disparities

We’ve reported previously on these two journal articles from the past year.  They’re worth thinking about again on Martin Luther King Day.

Mathematics Self-Efficacy and African American Male Students: An Examination of Two Models of Success,” Journal of African American Males in Education (Summer 2011, Volume 2, Issue 2). Dr. Richard Noble, N.C. A&T Department of Mathematics.

Noble observes that there’s no shortage of documentation of the academic 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.

“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.”

“Recruiting Intergenerational African American Males for Biomedical Research Studies: A Major Research Challenge,” Journal of the National Medical Association, June 2011 (Volume 103, Number 6), Drs. Goldie S. Byrd (lead author), Vinaya A. Kelkar and Ruth G. Phillips of the N.C. A&T Department of Biology along with co-authors including A&T students and colleagues from Duke University and the University of Miami.

African American males continue to have the highest age-adjusted mortality rate of any race-sex group in the United States. But research that could lower that death rate is often of limited reliability because of a shortage of African American men willing to participate in biomedical research studies. African American males cite a lack of trust as a primary reason. That distrust is rooted in the men’s awareness of historical cases of research misconduct in which minorities were abused or exposed to racial discrimination or racist provocation. The authors’ solution is to look to the basics of relationship-building: communicate better and back those words with action.

“There is an ongoing need to continue to seek advice, improve communication, and design research studies that garner trust and improve participation among African American males as a targeted underrepresented population. Such communication and dialogues should occur at all age levels of research development to assess current attitudes and behaviors of African American males around participation.”

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