A clash of social class cultures? Students' experiences in a discussion-intensive seventh-grade mathematics classroom

Sarah Theule Lubienski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this study, as a teacher-researcher, I explored the ways in which a pedagogy (based in part on the Connected Mathematics Project, a curriculum development project involving problem-centered materials) aligned with current mathematics education reforms played out with a socioeconomically diverse group of 18 seventh-grade students in 1 class. This article's focus is on students' experiences with whole-class discussions, with particular attention to the cases of 6 girls. Data, which were collected across 1 school year, included 3 interviews with students, student survey responses, student work, daily audio recordings, and my teaching journal. Analyses showed that, although high-socioeconomic status (SES) students generally viewed the discussions as a helpful forum for exchanging ideas, more lower-SES students said they became confused by conflicting ideas and preferred more teacher direction. Additionally, lower-SES students more often focused on giving correct answers to specific, contextualized problems, whereas higher-SES students seemed to approach discussions with an eye toward the underlying, abstract mathematical ideas. I examined critical links between current reforms and literatures on social class, which suggested that some characteristics of discussion-intensive mathematics classrooms might be more aligned with middle-class cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-403
Number of pages28
JournalElementary School Journal
Volume100
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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