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.