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Bringing the Culture to Mathematics: The Impact of Lesson Studies on Math Teachers' Understanding and Self-Efficacy of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy


African-American and Latinx students are losing out on opportunities to take part in high-paying careers and higher education because of a lack of mathematical proficiency. The institutional and individual factors that are present in K-12 school systems create feelings of alienation and disidentification in African-American and Latinx students from math. The most prominent being the inequitable math experiences that are prevalent in low-income schools where minority students make up the majority. Failing to provide African-American and Latinx students with a mathematics curriculum and instruction centered on their experiences, culture, and traditions is a deterrent to the achievement of equity in mathematics education. Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in mathematics builds on students’ cultural capital, prior knowledge, and mental schemas that supports African-American and Latinx students to acquire academic success, cultural competence, and sociopolitical awareness. However, educators do not possess a depth of understanding and/or the self-efficacy to implement culturally relevant pedagogy into their math classrooms. Lesson studies, a system of collaborative efforts and live instruction, is a promising professional development model that addresses this issue. This study utilized a mixed method approach to understand how lesson studies impacted three middle school math teachers’ competency in culturally relevant pedagogy by exploring: (1) In what ways does the lesson study model help teachers gain a better understanding of culturally relevant pedagogy? (2) In what ways does the lesson study model support teachers in creating, refining, and analyzing culturally relevant, cognitively demanding mathematical tasks? And, (3) In what ways does the lesson study model support teachers in deciding on effective pedagogical moves?

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