Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Emilie Reagan

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

David Drew

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Frances Gipson

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2024 Jennifer DaCosta


Algebra 2, Black Male, Institutional Agents, Physics, Self-Efficacy, STEM

Subject Categories

Physics | Race and Ethnicity | Secondary Education


In the landscape of American education, Black male students face significant barriers in accessing advanced science courses, a challenge that underscores broader issues of equity and inclusion. This study investigated the factors influencing Black male high school students’ access to earn physics credits, focusing on the interplay between school offerings, academic prerequisites, counselor support, personal efficacy in science, and socioeconomic status. Through a detailed analysis of data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, the research adopted a quantitative approach to examine how these variables collectively impact the educational trajectory of these students through multiple regression models which produced similar statistically significant findings reinforcing the substantive conclusions. The study’s findings illuminate a significant relationship between the availability of physics courses on-site and the likelihood of Black male students earning physics credit. It further identifies the successful completion of Algebra 2 as a critical gateway, emphasizing its role in access to physics. The research also highlights the effect of high counselor caseloads on students‘ access to courses and the diminishing access with an increasing caseload. The study underscores the importance of science efficacy, or students’ confidence in their scientific abilities, as a positive predictor of success in physics. Finally, socioeconomic status emerges as a pivotal factor, with its varying impact underscoring the complex ways in which economic conditions influence educational opportunities. However, the findings further elucidate that socioeconomic status (SES), while a significant barrier, may be potentially mitigated by factors such as science efficacy and the completion of Algebra 2. Specifically, the research suggests that high levels of science efficacy—students’ belief in their ability to succeed in science—can lessen the negative impact of low SES on access to physics courses. Similarly, the successful completion of Algebra 2 serves as an academic equalizer, providing students from various socioeconomic backgrounds with the foundational skills necessary for success in advanced science courses. These findings indicate that targeted interventions aimed at enhancing students’ self-efficacy in science and ensuring access to key mathematical coursework could effectively bridge the gap caused by socioeconomic disparities, offering a more inclusive path toward advanced STEM education for Black male students. By shedding light on these key factors, this study contributes insights into the systemic barriers that obstruct Black male students’ access to advanced STEM education. The findings suggest actionable pathways for educators, policymakers, and counselors to enhance support mechanisms and create more equitable opportunities for Black male students in STEM courses.