Exploring the Mathematical Identities of Successful Latino High School Students Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Wright, Stephanie
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • Using Martin’s (2000) framework, this study examined the mathematical identity and socialization of successful Latino students in a small community in the rural South. Positioned in the New Latino Diaspora (Murillo, 2002; Villenas, 2002), I provide a counternarrative to the gap-gazing dominant narrative of Latinos in mathematics education research, which historically has primarily focused on lack of academic success among Latino students in comparison to their White, middle class counterparts. These case studies explore not only how the ways in which students defined their own mathematical identity, but also how parents, teachers, and peers influence students’ mathematical identities. The four high school students presented as cases in this study all exhibit positive mathematical identities and show relatively high levels of interest in continuing their education in STEM fields. The students identified being successful in mathematics as innate ability, as opposed to an acquired or nurtured skill, and identified mathematics as closed system, only available to those with a pre-existing aptitude for mathematics. They expressed appreciation for mathematics as a static, finite school subject having little access to experiencing mathematics as a field of open inquiry or real life application. The students also saw the importance of mathematics as being more about fulfilling a prerequisite for higher education rather than a field of high interest or passion. These students’ self-identified their success in mathematics and defined this success primarily by comparing themselves to their less mathematically successful peers in school. These students also expressed concern over a perceived negative effect of limited opportunities for higher education on their peers as dictated by documentation status. There were exhibited mixed perceptions on the role of parents’ perceptions of mathematics, and there was very limited emphasis given to the role of teachers in the creation of positive mathematical identities. For these students, academic and mathematical success was often associated with a negotiated relationships with their peers and/or family while teachers seemed to be, at best, benign transmitters of mostly algorithms and facts. Implications for mathematics teachers and mathematics education researchers are discussed, such as the possibilities offered by critical mathematics pedagogies.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Noblit, George W.
  • Hogan, Brian
  • Carrillo, Juan
  • Scott, Catherine
  • Davis, Cassandra
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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