Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Middle and Secondary Education
Lou Matthews, Ph.D.
Jennifer Esposito, Ph.D.
Rhina Fernandes Williams, Ph.D.
Shonda Lemons-Smith, Ph.D.
Asa Hilliard, Ph.D.
JAMAICAN GIRLS’ ETHNIC IDENTITY AND THE MATHEMATICS CLASSROOM: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC CASE STUDY
Changing demographics in the U.S. student population have led educators to focus increased attention on issues of equity in the mathematics classroom. This focus has sparked many discussions on the experiences of ethnically diverse students, particularly those of African descent. It has been suggested that improving equity in the mathematics classroom will require further investigation on how the linguistic, ethnic identity, racial, gender, and socioeconomic backgrounds influence the learning of mathematics. In light of this, there is a scarcity of scholarly literature that examines the impact of ethnic identity on the educational experiences of Jamaican-born girls in
mathematics. The purpose of this study was to explore the influences of ethnic identity on the learning perspectives of four Jamaican-born females as they negotiate their mathematics schooling experiences in the United States. More specifically, the research questions were (1) What is the nature of the participants’ perceptions and attitudes
towards their identities as mathematics students and (2) How are the participants’ actions and behaviors in the mathematics classroom informed by their ethnic identity?
Framed in a multiple case study design, the study utilized Collins’ (1990) Black Feminist thought and ethnic identity theory as the theoretical framework. Three individual interviews and one focus group interview were conducted with the participants, as well as two interviews with their mathematics teacher and two interviews with their parent(s). A constant comparison method (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) was
utilized to analyze the data. The nature of these participants’ perceptions of Jamaican ethnic identity was seen as a source of motivation and empowerment as they negotiated their individual mathematics classrooms. These participants appeared to have negotiated their mathematics learning by ascribing to specific actions and behaviors that were informed by the nature of their perceptions of “Jamaicanness”. Findings from the study suggest that perceptions of ethnic identity could facilitate mathematics ability by building confidence and promoting and building mathematics collaboration
Vernon-Jackson, Sandra, "Jamaican Girls' Ethnic Identity and The Mathematics Classroom: An Ethnographic Case Study." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2009.