Understanding African-American Students’ Problem-Solving Ability in the Precalculus and Advanced Placement Computer Science Classroom

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date


Publication Title

Emerging Research, Practice, and Policy on Computational Thinking






This study was conducted to assess African-American student’s problem-solving strategies and solutions between similar mathematics and computer science tasks. Six African-American participants comprised of five high school students and one high school graduate who had taken or jointly enrolled in precalculus and AP computer science courses participated in the study. Data collected were precalculus and computer science problem solutions, think-aloud and retrospective interviews, problem-solving strategies used to solve problems, and analytic scoring rubric scale scores. Student problem-solving strategies when engaged in solving precalculus and computer science problems were coded by the researcher and co-rater to determine inter-rater agreement. Student precalculus and computer science solutions were graded using an analytic scoring rubric scale to determine levels of problem-solving ability. Results found that students did not exhibit the same problem-solving strategies in both contexts. Implications of this finding between mathematical and computer science problem-solving are presented.