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Researching Race in Mathematics Education


by Danny Bernard Martin 2009

Background: Within mathematics education research, policy, and practice, race remains undertheorized in relation to mathematics learning and participation. Although race is characterized in the sociological and critical theory literatures as socially and politically constructed with structural expressions, most studies of differential outcomes in mathematics education begin and end their analyses of race with static racial categories and group labels used for the sole purpose of disaggregating data. This inadequate framing is, itself, reflective of a racialization process that continues to legitimize the social devaluing and stigmatization of many students of color. I draw from my own research with African American adults and adolescents, as well as recent research on the mathematical experiences of African American students conducted by other scholars. I also draw from the sociological and critical theory literatures to examine the ways that race and racism are conceptualized in the larger social context and in ways that are informative for mathematics education researchers, policy makers, and practitioners.

Purpose: To review and critically analyze how the construct of race has been conceptualized in mathematics education research, policy, and practice.

Research Design: Narrative synthesis.

Conclusion: Future research and policy efforts in mathematics education should examine racialized inequalities by considering the socially constructed nature of race.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 2, 2009, p. 295-338
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15226, Date Accessed: 12/15/2017 10:35:42 PM

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About the Author
  • Danny Bernard Martin
    University of Illinois at Chicago
    E-mail Author
    DANNY MARTIN is associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he holds a joint appointment in the College of Education and the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science. His primary research interest is equity issues in mathematics education, with a focus on mathematics socialization and the construction of mathematics identities among African American adults and adolescents. He is author of the book, Mathematics Success and Failure Among African Youth. His recent articles include "Mathematics Learning and Participation as Racialized Forms of Experience: African American Parents Speak on the Struggle for Mathematics Literacy" and "Mathematics Learning and Participation in the African American Context: The Co-Construction of Identity in Two Intersecting Realms of Experience."
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