Applying Symbolic Convergence Theory to Pre-service Teachers’ Responses to Mathematics Education Organizations’ Statements on Racial Violence




Mathematics Education, Symbolic Convergence Theory, Anti-racism, Organizational Communication


In June 2020, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) released statements regarding racism, racial violence, and mathematics teaching.  Pre-service elementary teachers (PSTs) in a mathematics content course wrote reactions to the organizations’ statements.  After using an emergent coding process to code the reactions for major themes, the authors used a theory from communication studies called symbolic convergence theory to analyze how closely the PSTs’ understanding of the statements aligned with the vision espoused by the organizations in the statements.  PSTs largely understood the need to make their classrooms safe and supportive spaces; however, they struggled to connect anti-racist ideals specifically to mathematics teaching.  The authors discuss potential ways NCTM and AMTE can address this disconnect.


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