Seeing Math Within: Co-Designing Mathematics Activities with Families and Teachers
Daniela Alvarez-Vargas

About the research


Equity in Math Education Research Grants

Award Year



University of Denver

Primary Discipline

Mathematics Education
There is power in the explicit representation of cultures that have been historically erased from mathematical spaces to honor the knowledge and practices of marginalized communities. In this study I leverage strengths-based educational tool ? Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories [LT]2 ( and the companion application Bajillions to build culturally sustaining pedagogical activities that are made by and for ethnically diverse families from kindergarten to 3rd grade. Developing technological tools focusing on the funds of knowledge of families from marginalized communities is a field that continuously improves the empirical, relational, and creative methods needed to build better conceptual frameworks that contribute to the creation of equitable math opportunities. There is evidence of the efficacy of [LT]2 but limited understanding of how families perceive the activities/resources and how their interaction with [LT]2 shapes math experiences and identities.I will conduct a two-year critical ethnographic study to understand 10 families? cultural math practices and math identity-work and children?s math development in the home and the classroom. The aims of this project are to (1) understand how families engage with the [LT]2 activities or other mathematical practices, (2) co-develop connections between mathematical practices in the home to the mathematical opportunities in school, and (3) interrogate how a collaboration between researchers, teachers, and caregivers influences the design of math opportunities and children math identity and knowledge formation. Together we will develop a cultural portrait of culturally sustaining mathematics activities and practices.
About Daniela Alvarez-Vargas
Daniela Alvarez-Vargas was born in Pereira, Colombia and moved to Miami, Florida right before entering Kindergarten. She later completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in statistics at Florida International University. Dr. Alvarez-Vargas’ experiences helping raise her beloved younger siblings and her undergraduate research with Dr. Shannon Pruden motivated her to pursue a PhD in Education with a focus on Human Development in Context. Dr. Alvarez-Vargas earned a Doctorate degree in Education at the University of California, Irvine with the guidance of Dr. Drew Bailey. In her doctoral work, Dr. Alvarez-Vargas focused on determining how different research methods could be used to evaluate how well educational programs reduce academic disparities, with the goal of informing policy and practice. She is passionate about developing research approaches and educational tools research to support children’s mathematical development from preschool to secondary education. Dr. Alvarez-Vargas focuses on evaluating, designing, and implementing strengths-based learning opportunities for students who have been historically marginalized in mathematics. She strives to balance participatory co-design approaches and causal inference methods to assess what works and for whom and to reimagine novel learning opportunities for children and their communities. Currently, Dr. Alvarez-Vargas is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Denver, Marsico Institute for Early Learning working with Drs. Doug Clements and Julie Sarama. In this work she engages directly with families and teachers to build math education equity from the community perspective, and to continuously improve and redesign educational tools that support children’s mathematical identity and knowledge work.

Pin It on Pinterest