Sense-Making in an Inequitable World: Mis/alignment Between Traditional Mathematics Classrooms and Knower-types

Dr. China Stepter’s presentation looks at the interplay between math classroom types (traditional v. student-centered approaches) and knower-types. Previous work has shown a gendered difference in students’ preferences for the different instructional approaches to teaching and learning mathematics, with students who prefer student-centered approaches exhibiting more of a desire to actively engage in mathematical sense-making rather than memorization and fact recall. This preference has impacted both students’ learning and performance in mathematics, in addition to their intentions to pursue STEM-based careers. This work brings an additional lens, focused on social identity markers, to offer new insight into the persistent differences between student-groups’ measured math performance on standardized tests. Dr. Stepter argues that without a meaningful, large-scale shift away from traditional approaches, educators, policymakers, and school systems alike will continue to restrict and push students with socially marginalized identities out of advanced math pipelines. Dr. Stepter looks particularly at the ways that students with socially marginalized identities apply agentic reasoning and problem-solving skills to various social aspects of their lives and how this shapes the critical and active sense-making that they prefer in math classrooms.