Morning Share-out

AMSSI Math 2017

May 19th


Group 1:

Existing claims:

3-part vision:

  1. Empirical work that begins with assumption/conceptualization that social identities and historical practices exist, and that the people that perpetuate/disrupt them may not be aware of principles (or histories)
  2. Capturing impact, rather than intent
  3. Informing public policy
  4. Be explicit about what trying to improve and what we are leaving invisible may perpetuate hierarchies
  5. Stereotype threat starts with the premise that stereotypes exist. What do we gain and lose by naming white supremacy versus racial hierarchies?

Group 2:

Focused on social network analysis

Directions to move in:

Possible idea for this afternoon: Loaded/Coded language

        How can we unpack coded language (gendered, racial, classed meanings that are embedded in words)?  How do we develop standards for warrants of evidence that make these embedded meanings clear and credible?

Group 3:

Papers: Shah, N., & Leonardo, Z. (2017) and Stout, J. G., Dasgupta, N., Hunsinger, M., & McManus, M. A. (2011)

Next steps: Tri-partite approach

-Proving/demonstrating that race, gender and other sociopolitical categories are operating

-Seeking to understand and demystify the mechanisms by which they operate

-radical imagination, visioning something different

Group 4:


Papers: Big questions and ideas

·      Limitations of theories of identity work, identity, identity development when presented without attention to theories on race, gender, and so on. We wondered, for example, in the Leander paper, how he read race into his data, the assumptions which undergirded his reading, and what his findings said about the racialized dimensions of identity work in classrooms. For example, what role does black girl hood and intersectionality play in how data is read and ultimately theorized.

·      Related: We also questions around positioning, positionality in carrying our identity-related research. We discussed the importance of not only being explicit on one’s positionality, but threading it through one’s analysis, at least in so far as being transparent on how it frames how one reads, interprets, works with data.

·      We also discussed the importance of the messiness of this work, in terms of the importance of overlaying scales of activity, scales of justice/injustice --the Micro to macros. So, how do historicized injustice play out in classroom practice? How do the  desires of young people, their families and communities play out in how we read students identity work, both in solidarity with cultural histories and also in challenge to oppressive narratives and ideologies.

·      Related: We discussed with respect to the Leander piece, and the importance of different readings of the same data. Example of reading the transcript without critical information of the youth, with the information, listening to the audio, seeing the video, and how all of the matter in how we might make sense

·      Related: Actual physical tools that could help with generating useful forms of data, but also that are sensitive to the fears and vulnerabilities of the populations we work with. We discussed earlier the importance of seeing, hearing the data… but video can be problematic.




In terms of new directions

·      We discussed the importance of situating identity work within and across multiple activity systems and/or settings, such the family, community, classroom. At the same time, we need to think about the child as  “history in person”, at what point and how do we get knowledge of history of person, and how do we make meaning of this, especially if we sit outside of history in person.

·      This raised interesting questions about forms of re-presentation. So, for example, most identity research is shared in text-based formats, primarily narrative. We discussed how different re-representations might help to foreground different dimensions to identity work. Example stop motion animation, gaming, 4-d modeling

·      Sustained, real engagement across setting and over time – and getting smarter about how to become vulnerable in these settings

·      Participatory approaches co-authored by youth, and which involves multiple forms of re-presentation (give example of stop motion animation)

·      Lengthy discussion of working with teachers and what this means. How do we engage in teachers in thinking about their roles in students’ identity work? How do they author their own identities alongside their students? How do we, as researchers, make sense of the agency or degrees of freedom (or lack thereof) that teachers have to make sense and take action on identity work.



Open Discussion Notes:

Where does the Carol Dweck Mindset work fit in? How is it related identity work? There’s a large body of empirical work on it and it is commonly spoken about in the field.

As a group broadly, we need to rhetorically engage with constructs like “mindset”, even as a critique and why we need to grapple with it. These critiques are out there already. The silence around mindset is purposeful as a statement.

Message from an outsider - what is the dependent variable? If it is identity, then there are limited connections. If the dependent variable is effort and how that is moderate by institutions, then it shows something.

        Effort at what? Effort at math? Many of us are talking about effort at being seen as mathematical, effort at taking up space and being heard.

The conversation has gone back to speaking to the mainstream perspective (reflective of masculine and white ideologies?).

Radical imagining as a policy discussion - there is so much research that we have already done, what are some policy imagining that we can offer now?

How has policy created new identities (identity categories) in classrooms?

Look at what this does done.

Part of what we are doing is fix our system that we call broken, but is not broken. It is fundamentally racist, patriarchal. The radical imagining is that we have to deal with the system as it is and then think about new and different systems. I.e., take black children out of the system completely. The response: how are you going to educate them? There is then a lack of faith of belief that black children can’t be educated by black people. The imagination doesn’t even go there.

Identity allows us to surface what kids experience. There is something about qualitative stories as data that people don’t want to believe. Stories should be taken seriously. They aren’t something that we need to “prove”. Epistemic injustice - “the stories that I tell are not good enough”

There is a history, a precedent of taking black out of the system and educating them in black-centric ways (freedom school, hbcu, systems of homeschooling)

What would a radical imagining of ways to educate Black children outside of the current system look like?

What about other identities beyond race that are also organizing learning spaces, including gender, sexuality, and others?

TOPICS: Please add 3-5 sentences about the topic idea. 

  1. SNA [Maisie, Marcy, Chris, Ken ] (title & abstract 500 words)
  1. Maisie (lead), Marcy, Ken - The purpose of this paper is to introduce SNA as a lens for understanding classrooms as structural spaces, as well as a set of techniques for qualitatively describing and quantifying power relations within classroom interaction.
  2. Chris (lead) - I present a citation network analysis of the social identity literature base in mathematics education research. The purpose of this paper is to outline the existing social identity literature, establish which identities are (not) studied, and offer a point of departure for future social identity research.

  1. Alternative schooling (history and imagining) [Danny, Emma, Imani, Tesha, Missy, Maxine]

  1. How do we construct mathematics identities that are worthy of black/brown children?

  1. What would it take to uncover/make visible/understand the expansiveness of mathematical identities among black and brown children?

  1. How do we uncover/make visible/understand the expansiveness/possibilities (?) of mathematical identities that recognize the heterogeneity of black and brown children in America?

  1. How do we make visible and try to understand the expansiveness of mathematical identities that recognize the heterogeneity of black and brown children in America?


5a.  How do we surface the expansiveness of mathematical identities that are worthy of Black and Brown children?

5b. How do we, as researchers, become worthy of doing this work?


Child-Centered Axioms

Identities cannot be known in advance of the child

Brilliance of Black and Brown Children

Not all identities can or should be be surfaced

Heterogeneity of Black and Brown Children


  1. Bridging to mainstream audience [Jenny, Corey, Dan, Buju]

The goal of this paper is to understand and explain student experiences and the effects of those experiences in student outcomes in math by leveraging different levels of analysis, including the individual level and the socio-cultural level. We focus on the interplay of individual and social interactions explain a range of  student outcomes. This paper bridges the theoretical and methodological domains of social psychology and socio-cultural theory in the study of social identities in mathematics. We focus in particular on the constructs of “social identity threat” in social psychology and “Social Identity Discourses” in mathematics education research. We synthesize these constructs to highlighting their intersections and divergences. We then move into a methodological discussion highlighting the potential of mixed methods in the study of social identity in mathematics teaching and learning processes. By looking at the intersection of these, how can each field learn from the other and what new ideas emerge? We also explore the epistemological tensions between these approaches.

  1. Coded Language [Niral, Marcy, Crystal, Sandra, Imani, Missy, Vicki]

Language is an always-moving target, and coded language related to social identities (e.g., race, gender, sexuality) is an issue that needs attention. First, we should consider what constitutes coded language (what are examples, what are the historical backgrounds/origins of this language. The history of how (coded) language has been used to oppress and marginalize students, communities, etc. Having an awareness of the social-political-historical context for that language is needed. Because it is problematic, we should consider in what ways can we seek opportunities to learn more about this language. Furthermore, we should continue the work of reinterpreting/interrogating how this coded language can label/stereotype/essentialize/”land on” populations that have been historically marginalized. For example deficit language has been an issue for researchers and educators and so often times the solution to this has been to use more ‘neutral language.’ Neutral language can get us into another situation/issue that’s problematic. Teaching/researching/being is politically-laden and a neutral stance is not an easy nor appropriate “out” to the problem. Let’s face this head on through the process of thought experiments.

In this article, we focus on two facets of this problem: 1) editors and reviewers recognizing and problematizing coded language--particularly that related to deficit discourses about students from nondominant groups (but not doing the work itself, recognizing coded language itself); this includes the deployment of coded language in writing manuscripts; and 2) researchers doing identity-related work (having a framework to do this)--having a platform/criteria for analyzing coded language in data and making claims. Researchers who come across coded language in their analyses are sometime hesitant to make claims about the impact of these discourses on the framing and positioning of people both local and distal to the local activity because of imposing intentionality on activity and classroom actors (e.g., teachers, students). However, by ignoring the relation of coded language to historical discourse practices of oppression and privilege, researchers fail to account for the way that these broader processes are shaping students’ social identities.

  1. Social identities beyond race (gender, sexuality, class, ability, immigration status, language) [Chris, Sunghwan]

  1. Policy -created social identity categories [Amy, Corey, Sunghwan, Beth, Sandra, Lani, Dan, Melissa, Danny, Emma] -- Lead: Lani

We will explore the ways that neoliberal policies, such as accountability, the response to intervention mandate, and school choice, co-construct children’s mathematical identities. Specifically, we will examine how policy language and practices shape and constrain possibilities for young people’s mathematical identities through vignettes from several research projects in multiple mathematics educational contexts.  We will consider which categories are made available in school-based interactions and how these categories operate on and implicate race, gender, class, language, ability, as well as children’s opportunities to learn.  

  1. Multiple lenses to same data [Danny, Tesha, Emma, Melissa, Beth, Sunghwan, Maxine]

  1. Ethical consideration of knowledge production and consumption, including participatory methods  (Sandra, Beth, Vicki, Lani, Emma, Angie) -- Lead: Beth

Identity research in mathematics is, by definition, personal and therefore vulnerable and consequential for participants and researchers. In this paper we consider some of the ethical demands of knowledge production and consumption in this field, with an eye toward humanizing research. In terms of knowledge production, we look at issues of (1) relationship formation, (2) positionality, (3) representation in data collection and analysis, (4) encountering difficult and sacred knowledge. In terms of knowledge consumption, we examine the historical construction of research and professional reward systems that reinstate patterns of dominance and oppression. We propose a set of tensions for researchers to consider as both producers and consumers of this work.

  1. Role of math in identity construction/ Where’s the math? [Melissa, Tesha, Maisie, Maxine]