Mathematics Confidence in an Urban High-School: Black students' perception of mathematics education
AdvisorJordan, Will J.
Committee memberCucchiara, Maia Bloomfield
Newton, Kristie Jones, 1973-
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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AN INTERVENTION FOR PROMOTING STUDENT IDENTITY EXPLORATION, MOTIVATION, AND ACHIEVEMENT IN HIGH SCHOOL MATHEMATICS CLASSROOMSKaplan, Avi; Lombardi, Doug, 1965-; Newton, Kristie Jones, 1973-; Booth, Julie L. (Temple University. Libraries, 2016)Many mathematics students experience dissonance between their sense of who they are and their perception of who they are expected to be in mathematics classrooms. Such students lack a sense of belonging while in mathematics class, believe that learning mathematics requires a natural ability they do not possess, experience classroom mathematical practices as being monotonous and devoid of meaning, or view mathematics as irrelevant to their present and future lives outside of the mathematics classroom. Together, these perceptions form students’ views of themselves in relation to the study of mathematics—their mathematics identities. However, whereas students’ mathematics identities are known to impact their academic motivation and achievement, the mathematics education literature lacks insight into how to promote positive mathematics identities in students. Flum and Kaplan (2006) identified the Eriksonian concept of exploration—the seeking out and processing of self-relevant information—as a key process in adaptive identity formation and one that may be harnessed as a motivational force in academic settings. The current study investigates the effects of a school-based program that is being implemented with the goal of promoting Algebra 2 students’ motivation and achievement by facilitating mathematics identity exploration. The data are based on pedagogical materials and student artifacts administered by three teachers as part of a classroom-based program that included reflective writing assignments that applied principles for promoting identity exploration around the curriculum. The research involves analyses of the data collected during this project undertaken in Algebra 2 classrooms in a suburban high school throughout one semester. Students were randomly assigned to either participate in the innovative pedagogical program or to one of two control groups. I found the mathematics identity exploration program to promote hints of exploration for some students but not others. Additionally, students who perceived the course as triggering mathematics identity exploration, whether assigned to the exploration program or to a control group, were found to have more adaptive motivational profiles at the end of the semester. The findings point to the benefits of identity exploration within the mathematics classroom to students’ mathematics identities and motivation in mathematics, and they provide directions for further research and the design of effective interventions that promote students’ identity exploration around the mathematics curriculum across student groups and contexts.