UPDATES Sign up to receive periodic updates from the Student Experience Research Network.
This research snapshot provides an overview of a project led by Jamaal Matthews and DeLeon Gray, funded through the SERN K-12 Teachers and Classrooms Research Portfolio. The researchers describe the development and validation of their Belonging-Centered Instruction Observation Protocol, which evaluates the multiple ways mathematics teachers can provide opportunities for active inclusion, learning equity, and empowerment through their instruction and in the social climate they create in their classrooms. They discuss the connections between the protocol and student engagement, mathematical agency, and achievement, as well as how teachers enact the various dimensions of the protocol within lessons.
Despite increasing racial and cultural diversity in the United States and many other industrialized countries, less than 2% of research published in top-tier educational psychology journals authentically examines the experiences of racial and cultural minorities. Through this special issue, we not only aim to increase representation of these populations in our research, but we also strive to promote greater integrity in how racial and cultural constructs are managed in the theories, methods, analyses, and interpretations of educational psychology research. In this introduction article, we define and discuss race-reimaging in educational psychology. Further, we briefly review the historical and contemporary issues in conventional psychological research that necessitate race-reimaging and underscore its appeal. Subsequently, we introduce each article in the special issue and speak to how its respective race-reimaging qualities inform as well as extend traditional educational psychology constructs. Finally, we point to special guest commentary by Paul Schutz and conclude with implications for race-reimaged research broadly.
This multimethod study draws on theories of teacher care, dispositions, and culturally relevant pedagogy to examine how 12 urban mathematics teachers’ perceptions of their own care practices align with their Black and Latinx students’ (n = 321) sense of connectedness in the mathematics classroom. A qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with the teachers established three typologies of care: empathetic, transactional, and blended. A questionnaire measure of mathematics classroom connectedness revealed that students in classrooms led by teachers who enacted an empathetic caring pedagogy were more likely to agree that their teachers provided emotional support, their classroom felt like a family, and their contributions were valued in class. Furthermore, students’ sense of classroom connectedness mediated the link between teacher care and the students’ perceived value and relevance of mathematics.
Asset-based pedagogy (ABP) reflects teacher instructional choices that affirm students’ ethnicity and culture in the classroom and curriculum. The current study examines two key enactments of ABPs for Latino children, namely cultural content integration and heritage language (Spanish). Utilizing an explanatory sequential mixed methods design, we assess mediation and moderation effects between teacher beliefs (n = 33), their ABPs, and the mathematics achievement of 568 Latino children in grades three through five. Next, we use qualitative interviews to probe teachers’ understanding and value of cultural content integration, heritage language, and how these work together in their own instructional practice. The quantitative results reveal that honoring students’ heritage language (Spanish) is the mediating element through which cultural content integration predicts mathematics achievement for Latino children. Further, the moderated mediation analysis, cross-validated by the teacher interviews, showed evidence that high teacher expectations alone may not be enough to predict teacher enactment of ABPs. Instead, critical awareness along with high expectations work together to predict enactment of culturally responsive teaching and growth in Latino students’ learning. Implications and limitations are discussed.
This article is guided by two goals: (a) to consider how race-based perspectives can serve as theoretical tools for investigating Black adolescents’ opportunities to belong at school, and (b) to describe cultural and political aspects of schooling that can support a sense of belongingness among Black adolescents. We discuss support for the belonging of Black adolescents in terms of interpersonal, instructional, and institutional opportunity structures. We provide a set of guiding questions for scholars seeking to advance educational psychology research at the intersection of race, belonging, and motivation. We end by describing specific research directions for an inclusive examination of school belonging, along with strategies to accomplish this goal.
Many adolescent learners have difficulty understanding the relevance of mathematics for their lives. This problem is particularly pernicious among Black and Latino adolescents who often face cultural stigma that can affect their perceived value of mathematics. This study uses concurrent nested mixed methods, including structured classroom observations, a computerized cognitive assessment, and surveys, to explore this issue in 419 urban Black and Latino adolescents. The quantitative results revealed that teachers' math applications were associated with students’ value of mathematics and interacted with adolescent cognitive flexibility to predict students’ growth in valuing mathematics over the school year. Semistructured qualitative interviews among a subset of students (n=37) corroborated the quantitative findings, but also revealed three themes that extended the quantitative results, uncovering racialized facets of valuing mathematics: utility orientations, alternative messengers, and resisting stigma and protecting collective identity. Altogether, these results demonstrated the role real-world applications, race, and adolescent cognition can have in urban mathematics classrooms. These findings suggest teachers’ sensitivity to these issues can support Black and Latino adolescents’ persistence in mathematics and understanding of self.
Restoring and protecting a sense of belonging for Black, Brown, and poor youth remains at the heart of social justice in U.S. schools. Drawing on research and lived experiences as an educator, Dr. Jamaal Matthews discusses mindsets and practices teachers can develop to assuage the assault against belonging and become proactive in restoring equity and opportunity in mathematics classrooms that serve historically disenfranchised students. This paper highlights the critical mindsets necessary for enacting and sustaining equity-based teaching practices. Next, it provides instructional strategies embedded within two high-leverage practices (i.e., coordinating and adjusting instruction for connection to students’ lives and analyzing instruction for the purpose of improving it) aimed at supporting teachers in understanding the significance of belonging beyond simply building classroom community, and in becoming aware of their power to promote belonging through their instructional choices and practices.