As a researcher-teacher, I examined 7th-graders' experiences with a problem-centered curriculum and pedagogy, focusing on SES differences in students' reactions to learning mathematics through problem solving. Although higher SES students tended to display confidence and solve problems with an eye toward the intended mathematical ideas, the lower SES students preferred more external direction and sometimes approached problems in a way that caused them to miss their intended mathematical points. An examination of sociological literature revealed ways in which these patterns in the data could be related to more than individual differences in temperament or achievement among the children. I suggest that class cultural differences could relate to students' approaches to learning mathematics through solving open, contextualized problems.
Sarah Theule Lubienski
Analyses of disparities in students' mathematics experiences and outcomes are an essential part of efforts to promote equity. Scholars concerned about equity should not write off such analyses as mere “gap gazing.” Research on gaps between underserved groups and their more advantaged peers are important for shaping public opinion and informing education policy. Analyses of gaps also inform mathematics education research and practice, illuminating which groups and curricular areas are most in need of intervention and additional study. Instead of pulling back from gaps analyses, the mathematics education community should move toward more skilled and nuanced analyses and integrate research on instructional reforms with careful analyses of their impact on disparities in student outcomes broadly defined.
Sarah Theule Lubienski
Through my interactions with preservice and in-service teachers in California, Michigan, and New York, I have heard a variety of perspectives on instruction in problem-centered mathematics instruction. I have watched educators struggle to find a role for problem solving in their classes. What constitutes teaching through problem solving? Exploring answers to this question can raise awareness of one's own perspectives and lead to deeper knowledge of problem-centered mathematics teaching.
Sarah Theule Lubienski and Andrew Bowen
This study provides a broad look at mathematics education research published between 1982 and 1998. The ERIC database was utilized to count and categorize more than 3,000 articles from 48 educational research journals. We identified the number of articles relating to gender, ethnicity, class, and disability that were published in journals from various categories. Attention was also given to grade levels, mathematical topics, and general educational topics in conjunction with each equity group. We conclude that, in comparison with research on ethnicity, class, and disability, research on gender was more prevalent and integrated into mainstream U.S. mathematics education research. Overall, the majority of research seemed to focus on student cognition and outcomes, with less attention to contextual or cultural issues.
Sarah Theule Lubienski and Rochelle Gutiérrez
In this rejoinder, the authors further detail their positions on the role of gaps analyses in mathematics education research as outlined in the previous 2 articles. They clarify areas of agreement and probe areas of disagreement, focusing on the benefits and dangers they see in either emphasizing educational disparities between groups or shifting the focus to the advancement of particular groups. The authors discuss ways in which their backgrounds have shaped their differences in perspectives and priorities, including whether socioeconomic disparities or racial and ethnic identity are more focal in their work. Suggestions for lessening the dangers of gaps analyses are discussed.
Rebecca McGraw, Sarah Thuele Lubienski and Marilyn E. Strutchens
In this article we describe gender gaps in mathematics achievement and attitude as measured by the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from 1990 to 2003. Analyzing relationships among achievement and mathematical content, student proficiency and percentile levels, race, and socioeconomic status (SES), we found that gender gaps favoring males (1) were generally small but had not diminished across reporting years, (2) were largest in the areas of measurement, number and operations (in Grades 8 and 12) and geometry (in Grade 12), (3) tended to be concentrated at the upper end of the score distributions, and (4) were most consistent for White, high-SES students and non-existent for Black students. In addition, we found that female students' attitudes and self-concepts related to mathematics continued to be more negative than those of male students.
Sarah T. Lubienski, Joseph P. Robinson, Corinna C. Crane and Colleen M. Ganley
Amid debates about the continued salience of gender in mathematics, this report summarizes an IES–funded investigation of gender–related patterns in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Class of 1998–99 (ECLS–K). Girls' and boys' mathematics achievement, confidence, and interest were examined, along with experiences at home and school. Mathematics performance gaps favoring boys appeared soon after children began kindergarten and then widened during elementary grades. Gender differences in mathematical confidence were larger than differences in both achievement and interest. Although boys' and girls' parent–reported home experiences differed in stereotypical ways, particularly among high–SES students, such differences appeared unrelated to gender gaps in mathematics outcomes. Teacher–reported instructional practices also shed little light on gender gaps in mathematics performance; however, teachers' perceptions of girls and boys could play a role.
Emily Miller, Martha Makowski, Yasemin Copur-Gencturk and Sarah Lubienski
Large–Scale Studies in Mathematics Education, edited by James A. Middleton, Jinfa Cai, and Stephen Hwang, presents mathematics education research covering a broad range of topics using a variety of data sources and analysis techniques. By spotlighting this work, the editors hope to encourage the use of large–scale data sets, which they argue are underutilized by mathematics education researchers. Middleton, Cai, and Hwang contend that “large scale studies can be both illuminative—uncovering patterns not yet seen in the literature, and critical—changing how we think about teaching, learning, policy, and practice” (p. 12). With its inclusion of studies using large–scale data sets and expository papers concerning methodological considerations, the book effectively challenges the reader to consider issues of scale. The book has 18 chapters organized into four sections on curriculum, teaching, learning, and methodology. Although the volume is organized by these areas of interest, we suggest that prospective readers peruse chapters in all sections. As the book editors note, the boundaries between sections are far from clear–cut, and readers may find work relevant to their area of interest throughout the book.