Exploring Mathematics of the Sociopolitical Through Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in a College Algebra Course at a Historically Black College/University

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21423/jume-v14i1a413

Keywords:

college mathematics, critical race theory, culturally relevant pedagogy, mathematics education

Abstract

In collegiate mathematics, college algebra continues to be a barrier to graduation for students (specifically non-science, mathematics, engineering, and science majors). Each year, nearly half of enrolled students struggle to “pass” this course with a grade of C or better (Herriott, 2006). Using innovative constructed lessons geared towards African American students, this research study was designed to investigate the effects of a sequence of such lessons grounded in the principles of culturally relevant pedagogy on students enrolled in an introductory college algebra course at a historically Black college/university. Using critical race theory as a lens, along with culturally relevant pedagogy, this study explored students’ abilities to apply mathematics to address contentious and present-day sociopolitical problems through eight in-depth semi-structure student interviews. Further, findings also suggest the need for collegiate mathematics instruction to have more emphasis on cultural components to build students’ sociopolitical consciousnesses, because this is integral in helping students be able to think critically and use mathematics in their everyday lives. Students in this experimental course were able to discuss difficult issues, such as the pervasiveness of racism in America (DeCuir & Dixson, 2004) and the importance of cultural identity for African American students (Martin, 2009).

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Gregory A. Downing, North Carolina Central University

Gregory A. Downing, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Science in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at North Carolina Central University. Dr. Downing earned his Ph.D. in Learning and Teaching in STEM Education with a concentration in Mathematics and Statistics Education from North Carolina State University. He holds a Master of Science in Mathematics from North Carolina Central University, a Master of Arts in Teaching (Secondary Mathematics) from Duke University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Downing’s research explores equity and diversity issues within STEM education, specifically how current teaching and learning practices within the K-16 system (dis/en)able students of color and other marginalized students to/from entering STEM careers. His dissertation, Leveraging Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in a College Algebra Course: A Mixed Methods Study was awarded an Outstanding Dissertation of the Year in the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education at North Carolina State University. Prior to his tenure-track position at NC Central, Dr. Downing was a fully funded doctoral student as a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Graduate Fellow. Most recently, he was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Burrough’s Wellcome Fund to partner NC Central and NC State’s Leadership Internship for Future Teachers (LIFT) program to help diversify the STEM teacher pipeline.

Whitney N. McCoy, University of Virginia

Whitney N. McCoy, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the Making Engineering Real (ME-REAL) National Science Foundation Grant in the Curry School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia. Mr. McCoy earned her Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences with a concentration in Educational Psychology from North Carolina State University. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Winston-Salem State University. Dr. McCoy’s research explores identity development for Black girls in educational settings. Her research interests include critical race theory, racial identity development, self-efficacy, and STEM education. Her dissertation, Black Girls Accepting the Grand Challenge: A Qualitative Exploration of a Summer Engineering Program’s Influence on Black Girls’ Racial Identity, Engineering Identity, and STEM Self-Efficacy was awarded Outstanding Dissertation of the Year in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences at North Carolina State University. Prior to her postdoctoral role, as a fully funded doctoral student, she was a Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholar and a recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

References

Aguilar, I., Nelson, S., & Niño, J. M. (2016). Swimming between: An examination of the inher-ent complexity within social justice. The Teacher Educator, 51(3), 250–265.

Ascher, M. (1991). Ethnomathematics: A multicultural view of mathematical ideas. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Baily, S., & Katradis, M. (2016). “Pretty much fear!!” Rationalizing teacher (dis)engagement in social justice education. Equity & Excellence in Education, 49(2), 215–227.

Boyce, S., & O’Halloran, J. (2020). Active learning in computer-based college algebra. Primus, 30(4), 458–474. https://doi.org/10.1080/10511970.2019.1608487

Bullock, E. C. (2017). Only STEM can save us? Examining race, place, and STEM education as property. Educational Studies, 53(6), 628-641.

Charmaz, K. (2006). Coding in grounded theory practice. In K. Charmaz (Ed.), Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis (pp. 42–71). SAGE.

Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. University of Chica-go Legal Forum, 1989(1) 139–168.

Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241–1299.

DeCuir-Gunby, J. T., Marshall, P. L., & McCulloch, A. W. (2011). Developing and using a codebook for the analysis of interview data: An example from a professional development research project. Field Methods, 23(2), 136–155. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1525822X10388468

DeCuir, J. T., & Dixson, A. D. (2004). “So when it comes out, they aren’t that surprised that it is there”: Using critical race theory as a tool of analysis of race and racism in education. Educational Researcher, 33(5), 26–31. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X033005026

Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical race theory: An introduction (3rd ed.). New York University Press.

Enyedy, N., & Mukhopadhyay, S. (2007). They don’t show nothing I didn’t know: Emergent tensions between culturally relevant pedagogy and mathematics pedagogy. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 16(2). https://doi.org/10.1080/10508400701193671

Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wen-deroth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(23), 8410–8415. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1319030111

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed (M. B. Ramos, Trans.). Continuum. (Original work published 1968)

Gutiérrez, R. (2008). A “gap-gazing” fetish in mathematics education? Problematizing research on the achievement gap. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 39(4), 357–364.

Gutiérrez, R. (2013). The sociopolitical turn in mathematics education. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 44(1), 37–68. https://doi.org/10.5951/jresematheduc.44.1.0037

Gutstein, E. (2003). Teaching and learning mathematics for social justice in an urban, Latino school. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 34(1), 37–73. https://doi.org/10.2307/30034699

Gutstein, E., Lipman, P., Hernandez, P., & Reyes, R. D. L. (1997). Culturally relevant mathe-matics teaching in a Mexican American context. Journal for Research in Mathematics Edu-cation, 28(6), 709–737. https://doi.org/10.2307/749639

Harper, S. R. (2010). An anti-deficit achievement framework for research on students of color in STEM. New Directions for Institutional Research, 2010(148), 63–74. https://doi.org/10.1002/ir.362

Harris, C. I. (1993). Whiteness as property. Harvard Law Review, 106(8), 1707–1791.

Herriott, S. R. (2006). Changes in college algebra. In N. B. Hastings, F. S. Gordon, S. P. Gor-don, & J. Narayan (Eds.), A fresh start for collegiate mathematics: Rethinking the courses below calculus (pp. 90–100). The Mathematical Association of America.

Herzig, A. H. (2005). Goals for achieving diversity in mathematics classrooms. The Mathematics Teacher, 99(4), 253–259.

Hubert, T. L. (2014). Learners of mathematics: High school students’ perspectives of culturally relevant mathematics pedagogy. Journal of African American Studies, 18(3), 324–336. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12111-013-9273-2

Joseph, N. M., Hailu, M., & Boston, D. (2017). Black women’s and girls’ persistence in the P–20 mathematics pipeline: Two decades of children, youth, and adult education research. Re-view of Research in Education, 41(1), 203–227. https://doi.org/10.3102%2F0091732X16689045

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995a). But that’s just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant peda-gogy. Theory Into Practice, 34(3), 159–165.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995b). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. American Educa-tional Research Journal, 32(3), 465–491. https://doi.org/10.3102%2F00028312032003465

Ladson-Billings, G. (2006). “Yes, but how do we do it?” Practicing culturally relevant pedagogy. In J. G. Landsman & C. W. Lewis (Eds.), White teachers/diverse classrooms: Creating inclusive schools, building on students’ diversity, and providing true educational equity (pp. 33–46). Stylus.

Ladson-Billings, G. (2014). Culturally relevant pedagogy 2.0: a.k.a. the remix. Harvard Educa-tional Review, 84(1), 74–84.

Larnell, G. V. (2016). More than just skill: Examining mathematics identities, racialized

narratives, and remediation among Black undergraduates. Journal for Research in Mathe-matics Education, 47(3), 233–269.

Lynn, M. (1999). Toward a critical race pedagogy: A research note. Urban Education, 33(5), 606–626. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085999335004

Martin, B. (1997). Mathematics and social interests. In A. B. Powell & M. Frankenstein (Eds.), Ethnomathematics: Challenging Eurocentrism in mathematics education (pp. 155–171). State University of New York Press.

Martin, D. B. (2009). Researching race in mathematics education. Teachers College Record, 111(2), 295–338.

Martin, D. B., Anderson, C. R., & Shah, N. (2017). Race and mathematics education. In J. Cai (Ed.), Compendium for research in mathematics education (pp. 607–636). National Coun-cil of Teachers of Mathematics.

Matthews, L. E. (2003). Babies overboard! The complexities of incorporating culturally relevant teaching into mathematics instruction. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 53(1), 61–82. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024601504028

Matthews, L. E., Jones, S. M., & Parker, Y. A. (2013). Advancing a framework for culturally relevant, cognitively demanding mathematics tasks. In J. Leonard & D. B. Martin (Eds.), The brilliance of Black children in mathematics: Beyond the numbers and toward new dis-course (pp. 123–150). Information Age Publishing.

Merriam, S. B., & Tisdell, E. J. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementa-tion (4th ed.). Jossey-Bass.

Milner, H. R., IV. (2017). Where’s the race in culturally relevant pedagogy? Teachers College Record, 119(1), 1–31.

Nasir, N. S., Hand, V., & Taylor, E. V. (2008). Culture and mathematics in school: Boundaries between “cultural” and “domain” knowledge in the mathematics classroom and beyond. Re-view of Research in Education, 32(1), 187–240. https://doi.org/10.3102%2F0091732X07308962

Ochs, E. (1979). Transcription as theory. In E. Ochs & B. Schieffelin (Eds.), Developmental pragmatics (pp. 43–72). Academic Press.

Powell, A. B., & Frankenstein, M. (Eds.). (1997). Ethnomathematics: Challenging Eurocentrism in mathematics education. State University of New York Press.

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. (2012). Engage to excel: Producing one million additional college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/fact_sheet_final.pdf

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Open coding. In A. Strauss & J. Corbin (Eds.), Basics of qual-itative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques (2nd ed., pp. 101–121). SAGE.

Tan, E., Barton, A. C., Turner, E., & Gutiérrez, M. V. (2012). Empowering science & mathemat-ics education in urban schools. University of Chicago Press.

Tate, W. F. (1995). Returning to the root: A culturally relevant approach to mathematics peda-gogy. Theory Into Practice, 34(3), 166–173.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2017). Quick facts: Population estimates, July 1, 2017. Retrieved March 8, 2018, from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/00#headnote-js-a

Westheimer, J., & Kahne, J. (1998). Education for action: Preparing youth for participatory de-mocracy. In W. Ayers, J. A. Hunt, & T. Quinn (Eds.), Teaching for social justice (pp. 1–20). The New Press.

Downloads

Published

2021-05-27

How to Cite

Gregory A. Downing, & Whitney N. McCoy. (2021). Exploring Mathematics of the Sociopolitical Through Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in a College Algebra Course at a Historically Black College/University. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 14(1), 45–70. https://doi.org/10.21423/jume-v14i1a413

Issue

Section

Special Issue: I, Too, Am America! Teaching Mathematics for Empowerment