Key findings include that classroom and school belonging are distinct and that teachers with more confidence in their ability to teach math had a stronger sense of classroom belonging among their students. The research also found there was no systematic difference in math classroom belonging across racial/ethnic groups or by gender.
“I’m heartened to know that second finding, that teachers’ sense of their efficacy has an impact on kids,” said Madison Metropolitan School District executive director of research and innovation Beth Vaade. “That’s what we want, we want to know as educators that what we do in a classroom is going to be connected to what scholars feel.”
MEP, which is a partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and MMSD, initially hoped to use observations and interviews with students and staff to complement the data from the surveys. But the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that extra step, something researcher and MEP co-director Eric Grodsky called “disappointing.”
Specifically, they explored that feeling in middle school math classrooms. Grodsky said that decision came partly because of the “stereotype threat” surrounding the subject, with the assumption that women and students of color are worse at math creating a psychological threat as soon as they enter a classroom. MMSD STEM director Patti Schaefer said math was an “appealing” subject for this type of research.
“We see math as I’m either a math person or I’m not, a very split way of seeing ourselves in math,” Schaefer said.
To measure belonging, researchers surveyed 1,887 students and 60 teachers at five MMSD middle schools.
Math curriculum/rigor and student performance are not new topics. A few links: Connected Math, Discovery Math, Math Task Force, 21% of University of Wisconsin System Freshman Require Remedial Math, UW-LaCrosse’s Remedial Math Courses and Math forum.
What impact do high school mathematics curricula have on college-level mathematics placement? (Traditional math curriculum students placed higher).
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results
Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.