Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

8-2010

Type of Culminating Activity

Dissertation

Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Stanley F. Steiner, Ph.D.

Abstract

This dissertation research focuses on the teaching for social justice with privileged middle school students. A need for this research was established based on the limited findings specific to teaching for social justice in mathematics.

This research was implemented with junior high level students in a public charter school. The socio-economic status and ethnic diversity of the class in which this study took place is primarily middle to upper middle class and ten percent nonwhite.

Qualitative research methods were used because this study focuses more on human interactions in the natural setting of a classroom. First, my observations of the social justice lessons and discussions were used. Second, students wrote reflection papers that depicted their reactions to the data related to social issues. Third, I conducted in-depth interviews with purposefully-selected students. All class sessions were video recorded and interviews were audiotaped.

Real world income data related to class, gender, and ethnicity were used in the mathematics lessons. Students were surprised at the income differences according to class, gender, and ethnicity. Responses to the data showed that most students connected income discrepancy with possible underlying issues such as discrimination, hiring bias, and unequal opportunities based on class, gender, and ethnicity. In addition, students’ responses showed that they would take actions in pursuit of changes and social justice, even though issues with underlying problems were not directly related to them. Students also found mathematics as an interesting subject connected to real world situations. Some students expressed interest for additional social issue topics in their class. Finally, the results showed support for an interdisciplinary approach of social justice education into other subject areas.

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