ERIC Identifier: ED402146
Publication Date: 1996-03-00
Author: Murphy, Nancy
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Science Mathematics and Environmental Education Columbus OH.
Multicultural Mathematics and Science: Effective K-12 Practices
for Equity. ERIC Digest.
Educational reform initiatives such as the NCTM Standards, National Science
Education Standards, and Project 2061 provide guidelines to reduce the diversity
gap in science and mathematics literacy. Schools are applying these guidelines
to classroom practice, posing questions about what changes are feasible given
the multiple pressures on today's schools. This digest provides references to
successful practices which have increased mathematics and science achievement
among diverse student populations.
ELIMINATING TRACKING, INCREASING EXPECTATIONS AND COURSE
REQUIREMENTS, AND CHANGING COURSE CONTENT SEQUENCES
In most public schools non-white
students have been more likely to end up in a "tracked" route that did not
include college preparatory mathematics and science courses in high school. Many
programs are challenging that practice with good results by preparing all
students for the college preparatory track (Silva, Moses, Rivers, & Johnson,
1990), placing all students in gifted classes (Hanson, Walker, & Flom,
1995), detracking mathematics courses and standardizing the curriculum during
the first few weeks until mobility lessens (Miner, 1995), and integrating the
content of high school mathematics classes (Kysh, 1995). Schools are
implementing innovative assessment practices which make expectations and
assessment criteria explicit for teachers and students (Waters, Burger, & Burger, 1995).
When access to computers is equitable,
technology improves opportunities for diverse student populations.
Computer-based labs and data analysis allow students to connect mathematics and
science to real issues in their communities (Sheppo, Hartsfield, Ruff, Jones & Holinga, 1994; Smith, 1989). The use of interactive software for geometry,
algebra, and calculus empowered students to use fundamental ideas, multiple
representations, and technology-assisted methods to reason about applied
problems and mathematical ideas (Heid & Zbiek, 1995). Videodiscs and CD-ROMs
provide clearer imagery and examples of science and mathematics topics (Rock
& Cummings, 1994).
ENHANCING LIFE SKILLS THROUGH MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE
Schools are using projects and exhibitions in which students
experience connected, applied mathematics and science. Some teach mathematics
and science entirely through student-generated business projects (Benedict,
1992). Meaning-centered, constructivist methods are helping students master
science, mathematics, and language acquisition skills (Minicucci, Berman,
McLeod, Nelson, & Woodworth, 1995).
CAPITALIZING ON CULTURAL LEARNING STYLES AND CULTURALLY
Students bring different cultural patterns to the
classroom through language use, space and time interactions, problem-solving
techniques, and interactional styles. They also bring different prior
experiences and frames of reference for imagining concrete applications of
abstract ideas. Schools are providing instruction that supports these varied
cultural styles and experiences by establishing all-girls science classes
(Pollina, 1995), using culturally-relevant materials (Matthews & Smith,
1994), creating options where students can choose between options that celebrate
diversity or provide cultural immersion (Piper, 1994).
ADDRESSING STAFFING NEEDS
Equitable schools show that it is
important to help teachers obtain the knowledge and experience to connect
mathematics and science in relevant ways to the lives of their students.
Teachers need to know how children think in mathematics in order to make
appropriate instructional decisions based on what each child knows and can do
(Carey, Fennema, Carpenter & Franke, 1995). Teachers with personal
experience in applied science and mathematics can apply their experiences to
promote connected and integrated learning (Minicucci et al., 1995; Phillips
& Ebrahimi, 1993). Equally important is empowering teachers with the ability
to make instructional and curricular decisions and to restructure school time
for teacher collaboration, exploration, and professional development (Navaez,
Jr. 1994; Ohanian, 1993). Other successful behaviors of equitable teachers are
including parents as active partners, demanding intellectual rigor and
challenge, disciplining without demeaning or abusive behavior, and improving
student attendance (Ladson-Billings, 1994).
ENGAGING PARENTS AS ACTIVE PARTNERS
involvement characterizes many successful schools. Some involve parents in all
aspects of curriculum decision-making and classroom management (Davis, 1995;
Minicucci et al., 1995). Others help families support science and math reasoning
at home (Sears & Nedearis, 1992; Campbell, 1994).
INCREASING AFFECTIVE AND ACADEMIC SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS
diverse students attribute their success in science and mathematics to a
nurturing relationship with an adult who provides high expectations, mentoring,
and support as students delve into the many unknowns of mathematics and science
problem solving (Kahle, 1987). This component plus a nurturing school community
is helpful for diverse students. Effective schools provide a structure that
supports caring teachers and counselors who work together to provide in-class
intervention for students in need (Benedict, 1992).
Benedict, R. (1992). Trashcan kids. Alexandria,
VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Campbell, P. B. (1994). Programs to encourage girls in math and science: Some
research and evaluation results. Groton, MA: Campbell-Kibler Associates.
Carey, D. A., Fennema, E., Carpenter, T. P., & Franke, M. L. (1995).
Equity and mathematics education. In W. G. Secada, E. Fennema, & L. B.
Adajian (Eds.), New directions for equity in mathematics education (pp. 93-125).
New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Davis, B. M. (1995). How to involve parents in a multicultural school.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Hanson, S., Walker, J., & Flom, B. (1995). Growing smart: What's working
for girls in school. Washington, DC: American Association of University Women
Heid, K. M., & Zbiek, R. M. (1995). A technology-intensive approach to
algebra. The Mathematics Teacher, 88(8), 650-656.
Kahle, J. B. (1987). SCORES: A project for change. International Journal of
Science Education, 9, 325-333.
Kysh, J. M. (1995). College preparatory mathematics: Change from within. The
Mathematics Teacher, 88(8), 660-666.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African
American children. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Matthews, C. E., & Smith, W. S. (1994). Native American related materials
in elementary science instruction. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,
Miner, B. (1995). Algebra for all: An equation for equity. In D. Levine, R.
Lowe, & B. Peterson (Eds.), Rethinking schools: An agenda for change (pp.
171-174). New York: The New Press.
Minicucci, C., Berman, B. M., McLeod, B., Nelson, B., & Woodworth, K.
(1995). School reform and student diversity. Phi Delta Kappan, 77(77-80).
Navaez Jr., A. (1994). A gem of a choice. Educational leadership, 51(1),
Ohanian, S. (1993). Garbage pizza, patchwork quilts, and math magic: Stories
about teachers who love to teach and children who love to learn. New York: W. H.
Freeman and Company.
Phillips, S., & Ebrahimi, H. (1993). Equation for success: Project SEED.
In G. Cuevas & M. Driscoll (Eds.), Reaching all students with mathematics
(pp. 59-72). Reston, VA: National Council for Teachers of Mathematics.
Piper, P. S. (1994). Schools-within-a-school: The Kapa'a Elementary School
model. Educational Innovations in the Pacific, 1(2), 1-3.
Pollina, A. (1995). Gender balance: Lessons from girls in science and
mathematics. Educational Leadership, 53(September), 30-33.
Rock, H. M., & Cummings, A. (1994). Can videodiscs improve student
outcomes? Educational Leadership, 51(7), 46-50.
Sears, N. C., & Nedearis, L. (1992). A progress report on implementation
of a family involvement project for early childhood mathematics among children
of the Oklahoma Seminole Head Start and Boley Head Start. [ED 352 172].
Sheppo, K. G., Hartsfield, S. J., Ruff, S., Jones, C. A., & Holinga, M.
(1994). How an urban school promotes inclusion. Educational Leadership, 52(4),
Silva, C. M., Moses, R. P., Rivers, J., & Johnson, P. (1990). The Algebra
Project: Making middle school mathematics count. Journal of Negro Education, 59,
Smith, L. B. (1989). A catalog of successful math programs across Alabama,
Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina. (Vol. II).
Research Triangle Park, N.C.: Southeast Educational Improvement Laboratory. [ED
Waters, T., Burger, D., & Burger, S. (1995). Moving up before moving on.
Educational Leadership, 52(6), 35-40.