More Than Just Skill: Examining Mathematics Identities, Racialized Narratives, and Remediation Among Black Undergraduates

The purpose of this study was to shed light on the mathematics-learning experiences of students who were enrolled in non-credit-bearing remedial mathematics courses at a 4-year university. Non-credit-bearing remedial mathematics courses have a long curricular history in both 2-year and 4-year higher education institutions, but students' mathematics-learning experiences in these courses have been largely unexplored. Furthermore, other recent studies have evinced the otherwise anecdotal supposition that African American learners, particularly, are disproportionately placed in these courses. In this study, students' narratives are the primary unit of analysis, and the data are derived from semistructured interviews with then-enrolled students and observations in a noncredit-bearing remedial mathematics course at a public, 4-year university. The study's findings center on two psychosocial phenomena amid these students' mathematicslearning experiences: identity satisficing and racialized identity threat. The article closes with implications for future research regarding both non-credit-bearing remedial mathematics courses and mathematics-learning identities and experiences.

Contributor Notes

Gregory V. Larnell, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1040 West Harrison Street (MC 147), Chicago, IL 60607;

(Corresponding author is Larnell
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education


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