Racial Discourse in Mathematics and its Impact on Student Learning, Identity, and Participation
Niral Shah

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Berkeley

Primary Discipline

Mathematics Education
Although the "Asians are good at math" narrative is pervasive in cultural discourse, little is known about its impact on student learning. To date, most research on race in mathematics education has been limited to quantitative studies of racial achievement gaps. This dissertation illuminates the complexities of racial-mathematical discourse, as well as its implications for students' identities and everyday participation in class. Qualitative student interviews (n = 35) and ethnographic observations were conducted at Eastwood High, a racially diverse, urban school in Northern California. Preliminary findings suggest that rather than static beliefs, students deploy racial-mathematical discourse in everyday interactions to position themselves and their classmates as more or less capable of learning mathematics. This research aims to reconceptualize what it means to learn mathematics, especially for historically marginalized students of color.
About Niral Shah

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