Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Mathematics as a Racialized Space: An Analysis of Secondary Teachers' Beliefs of Teaching Mathematics to Latinx Students
by Franzak, Mark David, Ph.D., New Mexico State University, 2019, 347; 27663643
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative collective case study explores the beliefs of four secondary teachers about teaching mathematics to a majority community of Latinx students. Mathematics is widely perceived as neutral and accessible to all, yet this perception is in direct contrast with the lived experiences of minority students. This study creates space to investigate race within the context of mathematics education. Mathematics teachers’ beliefs are related to their instructional practice in intricate and complex ways, which opens an extended question regarding the intersection of beliefs of race with beliefs of teaching mathematics. Although mathematics is often purported as race-neutral, the research base indicates that minority students’ lived experiences contradict the colorblind assertion. Moreover, the performance gap in mathematics assessments provides evidence to question the structures that promote and produce a racialized differentiated outcome. The narratives of the four participants in this study incorporate critical episodes that serve as the seeds for their belief systems. Four themes emerged from the data: (1) varied beliefs of mathematics, (2) the meritocracy of learning mathematics, (3) teaching mathematics is a colorblind endeavor, and (4) the enduring power of deficit thinking. These narratives also mirror the dominant narratives in society of race, work ethic, and colorblindness. Within the participants’ narratives, deficit ideology is the prominent lens of viewing Latinx students and their families, and through this deficit lens, the participants’ narratives contribute to the construction of race, as well as to the establishment of whiteness as property. The participants’ narratives show that their beliefs of mathematics intersect with their beliefs about race, validating not only a race-differentiated pedagogy, but normalizing the racialized hierarchy of the performance gap. This study suggests that the secondary mathematics classroom is a highly racialized space, and that mathematics teachers’ beliefs about mathematics intersect with their beliefs about race in ways that strongly impact Latinx students’ opportunities to acquire mathematical knowledge. Implications of this study press teacher education programs to center race and equity as paramount foci of pre-service teachers. Similarly, it is equally imperative that school districts adopt an equity-oriented focus to mathematics education, and support their teachers in reflective practice to attain such a goal. This study also suggests that race/ethnicity should be addressed in future research in mathematics education. Given the paucity of attention to race in the research base on teachers’ beliefs in mathematics education, in contrast to the substantial conclusion that the mathematics classroom is a highly racialized space, to deny, disregard, or otherwise ignore race as a factor is to willingly be complicit in reifying the current racialized nature of mathematics education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hayne Writer, Jeanette
Commitee: Rutledge, David, Baptiste, H. Prentice, Prentice, Mary
School: New Mexico State University
Department: Curriculum and Instruction
School Location: United States -- New Mexico
Source: DAI-A 81/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Teacher education, Secondary education, Hispanic American studies
Keywords: Beliefs, Colorblind, Latinx, Mathematics, Meritocracy, Race
Publication Number: 27663643
ISBN: 9781392520123
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