Mathematics Confidence in an Urban High-School: Black students' perception of mathematics education
AdvisorJordan, Will J.
Committee memberCucchiara, Maia Bloomfield
Newton, Kristie Jones
Brandt, Carol B.
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/2291
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AbstractThis was an investigation of students’ mathematics confidence and how it is shaped by their accumulated experiences in mathematics education, and informs their view of the purpose of mathematics in their current and envisioned lives. There is no shortage of studies on black students’ poor performance in mathematics education and its seeming persistence in spite of reform initiatives and policy changes. Conversely, there is a dearth of studies in the field on high achieving black students and the construction of their mathematics identities. Some scholars have argued that the plenitude of data on the failure of black students in mathematics education has contributed to mainstream beliefs of a racial hierarchy of mathematics ability in America. This perception has not only shaped attitudes and behaviors of educational scholars, policymakers, practitioners, but it has contributed to the alienation of many students from the community of “doers of mathematics.” In an effort to combat the pervasiveness of race-based beliefs of math ability, some researchers in the field of mathematics have advocated for the need to refocus research on better understanding students’ mathematics identity and its relationship to their performance. In light of this, this study, using ethnographic methods, examined the mathematics confidence—a subset of mathematics identity—of a group of seniors enrolled in honor’s pre-calculus at an under resourced urban comprehensive high school. Data collected and analyzed for this study showed that participants, in spite of a history of mostly success in math and despite being socialized to view the classroom as opportunity to challenge disparaging views of African Americans, refused to seek or claim membership to the community of math people. This study provides new insights into black students’ perception of and sense of belongingness to mathematics, and its potential impact on their academic and economic prospects.
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