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An Investigation of African American Students' Mathematical Problem Solving

Carol E. Malloy, M. Gail Jones 

March 1998, Volume 29, Issue 2, Page 143

Abstract:
In this study we examined the problem-solving characteristics, strategy selection and use, and verification actions of 24 African American 8th-grade students. Students participated in individual, talk-aloud problem-solving sessions and were interviewed about their problem solutions and attitudes about learning mathematics. Students displayed approaches attributed to African American learners in the literature, regularly using holistic rather than analytic reasoning; their display of confidence and high self-esteem did not appear to be related to success. Students' problem-solving actions matched previously reported characteristics of good mathematical problem solvers: successful use of strategies, flexibility in approach, use of verification actions, and ability to deal with irrelevant detail. Success was highly correlated with strategy selection and use and moderately correlated with verification actions.

Keywords:
Qualitative
Article
Grades 6-8
Higher Education
Equity / Diversity / Special Needs
Teacher
Problems
Problem Solving / Problem Posing
Reasoning and Proof