Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



In the United States, as the Hispanic population continues to grow, persistently low mathematics achievement among Mexican Americans continues to exist, particularly among girls. Low mathematics achievement places this group in a disadvantaged position. As such, a multistage mixed method study was implemented to investigate possible factors associated with mathematics achievement and the probability of taking mathematics courses beyond Algebra 2 among Mexican American female high school students. The Educational Longitudinal Study (ELS:2002) database provided the quantitative sample (n = 710) of respondents who self-identified as Mexican American, female, and had a math IRT score. A parallel sample (n = 5), of college age women attending a public university in the southeast United States, provided qualitative data through face-to-face interviews. Inclusion criteria for the parallel sample was female, Mexican descendent self-identifying as first, second or third generation and completion of high school math credits beyond Algebra 2. Methods for analysis were the three-dimensional space narrative structure for the qualitative data and multilevel analysis for the quantitative data. Outcome variables were mathematics achievement and math credits beyond Algebra 2. Explanatory variables included in the model for the student level were social economic status, generational status, sense of belonging, parent expectation to earn at least a Bachelor’s degree, homework rules, a measure of math self-efficacy, number of advanced placement math credits, and seeing school counselor for college advice. Explanatory variables for the school level included teacher encouragement, percentage of Hispanic teachers, and percentage of minority students. Findings indicated significant student effects for math self-efficacy, seeing the school counselor, and advanced placement math credits, when using the imputed model with math achievement as the outcome variable. Parental expectation to graduate college was significant when using math credits earned beyond Algebra 2 as the outcome variable. Qualitative data provided insights about participants enjoying opportunities for hands-on projects, working in groups, and solving math problems. Participants shared that teachers served as role models and that parents expected them to graduate from college. The qualitative data provides guidance for including sense of belonging and parental educational levels with further research relative to Mexican American female students.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

MacGregor, S. Kim

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Education Commons