July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Imagine the following classroom scenario, "While teaching your class online, you ask students to post questions in the chat feature on Zoom, and the entire class is accidentally sent a chat from a student that says, 'I'm surprised Shawna [a black student] can speak so eloquently, where is she even from?' How do you proceed with the class?" As a reader, take a moment to think about how you would respond. What informs your approach, and what contextual questions would you want to know before determining a response? The classroom scenario presented above was presented to 14 mathematics instructors at the start of a professional learning community (PLC) centered around issues of equity and inclusive teaching. The range of suggested instructional responses, affective experiences (e.g., stress, determination), and guiding orientations on the part of the instructor were so striking that they motivated the basis of our analysis in this manuscript. As such, in this manuscript, we address the following research questions: How do mathematics instructors respond and react when given a potential classroom scenario around racial microaggressions in an online teaching environment? What inferences can be drawn from the types of instructor responses and the messages they convey about students belonging in mathematics classrooms?
We conducted thematic analysis of the interviews to identify instructors' responses and actions to the classroom scenario. The interviews resulted in 196 coded segments ranging from the steps a faculty member would take to respond to the scenario and the breadth of their emotional reactions to the interview scenario. There were four main categories of codes: interview characteristics, interviewees' prior experiences, interviewees' responses, and interviewees' actions. Many of the instructors in the PLC do not seem to have experience with a microaggression around race in their classrooms, based on explicitly saying they had no prior experience (21 codes) and the frequency of responses linked to surprise, shock, or discomfort (18 codes), the large number of long pauses (15 codes), and the number of requests for additional time to respond (10). There were a variety of actions faculty would take to address the microaggression. Ten times, faculty members said they would discuss classroom norms, and nine times, they condemned the comment made in the chat.
In the final stages of the thematic analysis, we identified five archetypes of instructors' responses to the microaggression. We build on counter storytelling and asset-oriented approaches to highlight the five archetypes that describe the interviewees, grouped by commonalities in their responses to the microaggression scenario. The archetypes included: The Action Taker, The Cautionary, The Connector, The Thinker, and The Confidant. We hope this study, our continued interaction with the PLC, and our future interviews with the instructors provide a framework to document elements of the training that have an effect on how STEM educators engage with racial microaggressions, and ultimately, create more inclusive spaces in classes for students of color.
Machen, R., & Austin, W., & Voigt, M. K. (2021, July), Responding to Microaggressions in the Classroom: Perspectives From Introductory Mathematics Instructors Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37676
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