Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Xu, Jianzhong

Committee Member

Brocato, D. Kay

Committee Member

Blendinger, Jack G.

Committee Member

Farmer, Angela

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Education Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Education


Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education


Very limited research exists on middle class African American families doing math homework. The present study examines the real life experiences of African American families doing math homework, with special emphasis on emotional and motivational factors that contribute to African American homework practices. This study focuses on 3 African American middle class families, all in 1 elementary school, doing 4th grade math homework. Students in Grade 4 and their parents are interviewed to examine what math homework means to them and what they believe about math homework. In addition, two teachers are interviewed to provide their perspectives of the aforementioned subject matter. Both parent and child in each case study are interviewed using open-ended topics to examine the motivational and emotional factors of homework practices among the three families. The researcher observes the students’ homework experiences for about 1 hour. Documents from all families are collected to gain insight into the homework experiences. These case studies combine interviews, observations, documents, and data analysis to look closely at the homework experiences of these students. Major findings include atypical math homework practices in terms of Caucasian middle class norms: The families believed that math homework was challenging and a serious business matter. Therefore, they worked twice as hard with a sense of urgency and priority at completing math homework. The mothers approached math homework with a warm, yet firm demeanor by providing external motivation through pushing their daughters, who lacked interest in math homework.