Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The meaning of adversity within traditional K–12 math classrooms in the United States from the perspective of African-American individuals
by Muldrew, Lola Melissa, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2012, 241; 3555382
Abstract (Summary)

An important consequence of a deeply rooted, mono-cultural rubric for acceptable school participation in the United States has been that African-American students in traditional K-12 math classrooms tend to be labeled as academically "at risk." This qualitative investigation responds to said categorization by examining African-American individuals' phenomenological experience of adversity within the specific context of negative math classroom experiences. Nine participants completed semi-structured interviews on their lived experiences of negative math classroom experiences that interfered with their efforts to be successful, and their descriptions were analyzed using phenomenological methodology (Creswell, 1998; Giorgi & Giorgi, 2003). Five textural descriptions of constraining negative math classroom experiences emerged from participant narratives and are discussed in the context of current literature on education and behavior research, especially as they related to the racialized experiences of African-American students. The results of this investigation provide support for the assertion that negative math classroom experiences contribute to feelings of intellectual inferiority; prompt self-fulfilling prophecies of failure; lead to estrangement from math related career goals due to inequality of opportunities; and exacerbate the effects of social hierarchies, cultural capital and privilege. While these themes that emerged from the study—along with absent and discouraging teachers, issues with learning processes, inappropriate tracking assignments, and didactic pedagogy—are somewhat race neutral, I have hypothesized that these negative experiences differentially affect African-American students due to their marginalized positions in schools and in math classrooms, in particular. Based on participant descriptions, then, there is compelling evidence that being identified as African-American in traditional K-12 math classrooms carries with it important contingencies, exclusions and stigmas.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ambrose, Rebecca
Commitee: Booker, Angela, Carter-Ching, Cynthia
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, African American Studies, Black studies, Educational psychology
Keywords: Adversity, African-American students, Didactic pedagogy, Narrative inquiry, Racialized forms of experience, Traditional mathematics classroom
Publication Number: 3555382
ISBN: 9781267969194
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