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Westina Matthews

It has been well established that beginning with secondary school, certain minority groups (e.g., blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans) are neither enrolling in mathematics classes as frequently as their white counterparts nor scoring as high on mathematics achievement tests (Anick, Carpenter, & Smith, 1981). Researchers have sought to explain these discrepancies. Reasons such as discrimination and sociocultural factors have been suggested. These explanations are plausible and may be accurate, but there is little hard evidence available to support them.

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Edited by Westina Matthews

In a Forum article entitled “Coloring the Equation: Minorities and Mathematics” in the January 1983 JRME, I suggested that our inability to understand the differences between racial groups in how they participate in and learn mathematics may stem from several questionable assumptions underlying much of the existing research. Such assumptions need to be challenged. I also expressed concern that so few members of minority groups have been involved as researchers in studies of minorities. This special issue of the JRME is a response to these concerns.

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Westina Matthews

Minorities and mathematics have not been the central focus of much published research, but a sizable relevant literature does exist. A review of 24 studies since 1975 is organized according to three types of variables—parent, student, and school—that influence the learning and participation of minority students in school mathematics. Few of the parental variables likely to influence performance or participation have been studied directly. A variety of studenr characteristics have been identified and their influence examined. Several school characteristics that appear tO be influential have not been quantified. The review suggests some directions for future research.

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Thomas P. Carpenter, Mary M. Lindquist, Westina Matthews and Edward A. Silver

The recent publication of the Report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983) has focused national attention on the state of education in the United States and the academic achievement of students. The results of the third mathematics assessment of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) provide a basis for examining students’ performance in mathematics and how it has changed over the last decade.

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Westina Matthews, Thomas P. Carpenter, Mary Montgomery Lindquist and Edward A. Silver

The Third National Assessment of Educational Progress in Mathematics was conducted in 1982. Data are available on exercises given to national samples of white, black, and Hispanic 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds. Although black and Hispanic students continued to score below the national level of performance, they made greater gains than their white counterparts since the second assessment in 1978, especially on exercises assessing knowledge and skill. Students in schools with heavy minority enrollments made greater-than-average gains. The more mathematics courses taken by 17-year-olds, black or white, the higher the level of achievement. The assessment results support increased efforts to improve the learning of mathematics by minority students.

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Mary Montgomery Lindquist, Thomas P. Carpenter, Edward A. Silver and Westina Matthews

The public has renewed interest and concern about education and those of usin the field must be prepared to answer question. One of the question is usually related to student performance. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a primary source to which we can turn for support of our answer.