Reducing the Impact of Implicit Racial and Gender Bias on Mathematics Classroom Discourse
Niral Shah

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Michigan State University

Primary Discipline

Mathematics Education
Implicit bias has been shown to produce racial and gender inequities across numerous facets of social life (e.g., policing, employment). In education, teachers’ implicit biases can affect students’ access to participation opportunities, which are critical for learning. However, little is known about how teachers can reduce the impact of implicit bias on classroom discourse. This is a particularly pressing problem in mathematics education, where despite its reputation as a “neutral” domain, inequities persist for girls and students of color.This mixed methods study investigates how teachers make sense of and utilize quantitative data on participation patterns and qualitative data on students’ subjective perceptions of implicit bias. Using an iterative design, analysis will focus on how teachers improve their practice through cycles of data-driven reflection. The study is poised to make two significant contributions. First, it will document equitable teaching practices. And second, it will produce a model for working with teachers on the sensitive topic of implicit bias. This model aims to facilitate larger-scale professional development efforts to make classrooms more equitable.
About Niral Shah
Niral Shah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. His research focuses on equity and implicit bias in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. In mathematics, Dr. Shah has studied how false racial narratives (e.g., “Asians are good at math”) construct mathematics classrooms as racialized spaces, and position students as being more or less capable of learning math. In computer science, he has studied how perceptions of status affect student learning and collaboration. In his current work, Dr. Shah is developing a tool to help teachers identify implicit bias in classroom discourse, and also improve their practice toward the goal of designing more equitable classrooms. His work has appeared in Teachers College Record, Human Development, and the Compendium for Research in Mathematics Education. Dr. Shah holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on mathematics, science, and technology.

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