Black Males’ Perceptions of Their Teachers’ Curricular Expectations in Culturally Sustaining Mathematics Classrooms
This study investigates Black male students' perceptions of their teachers' curricular expectations in mathematics classrooms. Curriculum in this study refers to what knowledge students are expected to learn, and the manner in which they are expected to learn it. The topic of this dissertation is in response to persisting and prevailing achievement disparities experienced by secondary Black male students in mathematics. These disparities exist at the school, district, state, and national level. Utilizing an action research methodology, multiple cycles of data collection led to the final iteration of the study, collecting strictly qualitative data and drawing from critical race methodology to address the three research questions.
The three research questions of this study seek to address how Black male students perceive their mathematics teachers’ curricular expectations, what practices they have found to be effective in meeting their teachers’ higher curricular expectations, and to determine how they view the reform practices as part of the intervention. Research questions were answered using one-on-one and focus group interviews, classroom observations, and student journals. An intervention was developed and delivered as part of the action research, which was an attempt at curriculum reform influenced by culturally relevant pedagogy, warm demander pedagogy, and youth participatory action research.
Findings from the qualitative methods, led to four assertions. The first assertion states, despite achievement disparities, Black male students care very much about their academic success. Second, a primary factor hindering Black male students’ academic success, as communicated by participants, is what they are learning and how they are learning it. Speaking to teachers’ expectations, participants believe their teachers want them to succeed and think highly of them. Additionally, participants preferred interactive, enthusiastic, and caring teachers, even if those teachers are academically demanding. Finally, participants found learning mathematics addressing a problem that affects them, while incorporating components that address their invisibility in the curriculum, increased relevance, interest, and academic self-awareness.