Access, Agency, and Allies in Mathematical Systems

A3IMS Project Photo

Principal Investigators: Beth Herbel-Eisenmann and Tonya Bartell (at MSU), Mary Foote, Vicki Hand, Anita Wager, Greg Larnell, Carlos LopezLeiva, Joel Amidon, and Courtney Koestler
Senior Personnel: Higinio Dominguez
Graduate Students: Durrell Jones, Frances Harper, Sunghwan Byun
Funding: National Science Foundation
Dates the project is funded: August 2014-2018

This NSF-funded project involves designing, facilitating, and studying professional development (PD) that positions equity issues at a systemic level through the development of an “equitable system” in middle grades mathematics education. An “equitable mathematics system” comprises intersecting levels of mathematics education that function synergistically to support the fair distribution of opportunities to learn (OTL).

The PD will involve a total of 20 middle school mathematics teachers in a two-week institute focused on supporting access and agency in relationship to  important mathematical practices like argumentation and justification, followed by support for the teachers to engage in systematic inquiry of their practice (i.e., action research) and later in systematic inquiry with other allies (i.e., participatory action research). Research will be conducted on the nature of students,’ teachers,’ and mathematics teacher educators’ OTL with respect to three features of an equitable mathematical system (i.e., access, agency, allies) and from the perspective of components of the system (i.e., students in mathematics classrooms, mathematics teachers in participatory and action research, and mathematics teacher educators in PD and research).

The project studies the coherence and alignment of these components from the perspective of classroom mathematics teachers. Having administrators become allies in this work can lead to sustainability of the project, which will modify models of PD, design/improve tools to observe and collect evidence about developing agency, access, and allies in relationship to mathematical argumentation and justification for students, and create resources for teachers and administrators to share beyond project teachers’ classrooms.