Exploring Mathematics of the Sociopolitical Through Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in a College Algebra Course at a Historically Black College/University
Keywords:college mathematics, critical race theory, culturally relevant pedagogy, mathematics education
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).
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