Rehumanizing college mathematics: centering the voices of Latin*, indigenous, LGBTQ+ and women STEM majors
MacArthur, Kelly Ann
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Calculus sequences are frequently experienced as gatekeeper courses for STEM-intending students, particularly for students from groups that have been historically marginalized in mathematics including Latin*, Indigenous, LGBTQ+ and women. I report here on research findings that explored attitudes of Calculus 2 students broadly, as well as more specifically from the above-listed groups regarding what practices, pedagogies, and structures feel humanizing to them. I used a transformative mixed methods design, built on a sociopolitical framework, namely the rehumanizing framework outlined by Gutiérrez (2018) that includes eight dimensions. The goal of this research is to answer a call from Gutiérrez in elevating and understanding the perspectives of students who are often ill-served and thereby impact future undergraduate teaching in positive and humanizing ways. The quantitative analysis of survey questions (n=153) showed that students generally find example scenarios that align with the eight rehumanizing dimensions to be humanizing, based on their ratings of feeling supported in their learning, feeling valued and a sense of belonging, and having connections between their mathematics class and their lives outside the classroom. From qualitative analysis of follow-up interviews with 20 students who self-identified as Latin*, Native American, LGBTQ+ and/or women, a student-driven definition of humanizing emerged. For these focal students, humanizing centers relationality and welcoming/caring/failure-tolerant classroom environment. Teaching actions that focal students described as humanizing were summed up as connections-connections to peers, teachers and to their lives outside the classroom. Blending the quantitative and qualitative analysis shed light on differences between dominant (white, heterosexual, cis-men) and focal group perceptions, especially regarding the Cultures & Theirstories rehumanizing dimension scenario. This was accompanied by cautions from focal students about how implementation of some scenarios matters in meeting a humanizing goal.