Promotive and Corrosive Factors in African American Students’ Math Beliefs and Achievement

Matthew A. Diemer, Aixa D. Marchand, Sarah E. McKellar, Oksana Malanchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Framed by expectancy-value theory (which posits that beliefs about and the subjective valuation of a domain predict achievement and decision-making in that domain), this study examined the relationships among teacher differential treatment and relevant math instruction on African American students’ self-concept of math ability, math task value, and math achievement. These questions were examined by applying structural equation modeling to 618 African American youth (45.6 % female) followed from 7th to 11th grade in the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study. While controlling for gender and prior math achievement, relevant math instruction promoted and teacher differential treatment corroded students’ math beliefs and achievement over time. Further, teacher discrimination undermined students’ perceptions of their teachers, a mediating process under-examined in previous inquiry. These findings suggest policy and practice levers to narrow opportunity gaps, as well as foster math achievement and science, technology, engineering and math success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1208-1225
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • African Americans
  • Expectancy value theory
  • Math
  • Structural equation modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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