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Theses Doctoral

Teaching Mathematics For Social Justice: How Students In An All-Girls School Use Mathematics to Read and Write

Glover, Lucretia

Teaching mathematics for social justice or critical mathematical literacy is said to have the potential of providing all students with equal access to mathematics education. The researcher used a case study approach to investigate the factors that affect female students’ development of sociopolitical consciousness and social agency through reading and writing the world with mathematics (RWWM). In conducting a 3-week study in an all-girls high school in New York, NY, students (N = 5) completed three mathematics lessons that addressed issues relating to racial profiling, education versus income earnings, and HIV/AIDS in Canada. This study contributes new insight into female students’ learning outcomes and dispositions. In doing so, this study contributes to the research relating to students’ development of sociopolitical consciousness and sense of agency as students “read and write the world” with mathematics.

The results indicated that although some students had some previous knowledge of social justice issues, the incorporation of social justice educated them about the most pressing issues of today, thereby creating an increased awareness. Although the majority of the participants revealed that they developed a motivation to learn mathematics through a sociopolitical lens, some participants expressed negative feelings as a result of a social justice awareness. When investigating how students develop sociopolitical consciousness through reading the world with mathematics, participants reported using data as evidence of the severity of current social justice issues, relating mathematics to the issues in the real world, and an overall effect of developing a strong connection with the social justice issues. In participating in this study, participants noted the following positive aspects that encouraged them to use mathematics to write the world: having hard proof or evidence on the existence of social injustice, making mathematics more understandable and interesting, and developing an understanding of the real purpose of statistics. As for what prevents participants from developing social agency, students indicated that the lack of teacher guidance on how to take actions added to their not being clear about how to “write the world” with mathematics.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Thesis Advisors
Walker, Erica
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 6, 2019