Indigenous and Latinx Students’ Developing Mathematical Identities
AuthorTsinnajinnie, Belin Manuel
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe aim of this study was to utilize notions of identity as an analytical framework in an effort to integrate a sociohistorical and sociopolitical framework in the context of Native American and Latinx mathematics learners. Interviews were collected from 3 Native American and 2 Latina students, their mathematics teacher, the parent of one of the students, and an assistant principal in order to account for the multiple influences on a student’s mathematical learning experiences. This study builds on the notions of normative and personal identity from Cobb, Gresalfi, and Hodge (2009) to examine ways in which Native American and Latinx students and teachers describe what generally and specifically mathematical obligations constitute an effective doer of mathematics in the classroom. Classroom observations and interviews are used to describe how students and the teacher described the normative identity established in their 6th grade classroom. The students’ interviews are then used to illustrate their personal identities, the extent to which they complied with or resisted the normative identity established in the classroom. Martin’s (2000) notion of mathematical identity uses a multilevel framework to describe the various influences outside of the classroom on students’ personal identities. This study revealed that there were common agreements among the student and teacher participants with regards to what students were accountable for, to whom they were accountable, and what forms of agency constituted an effective doer of mathematics in the classroom. However, there was variability in the extent to which students identified with or resisted the obligations they would have to align with in order to be considered an effective doer of mathematics. I examined the cases of students who resisted such notions to gain a better understanding as to why they demonstrated resistant behavior. Interview responses from the teacher, parent, and the assistant principal as well as the students themselves showed that government and educational policies played a strong influence in determining how the normative identity was constructed in the classroom. Their resistance stemmed from the conflicts between what students felt obligated to do in their classroom and students’ prior understandings of what it meant to do and learn mathematics. Their voices provided another level of context illustrating the historical disconnect between what is considered academic mathematical success and the prior experiences and values that Native American and Latinx students bring to the classroom.
Degree ProgramGraduate College