A Call for Collaborative Research To Investigate the Indian Math Problem.Report as inadecuate

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Two studies appear to reach unsatisfactory conclusions regarding causes of low math achievement among American Indians. Leap (1988) studied math problem-solving strategies among low-math-achieving fourth- and fifth-grade Ute reservation students. He concluded that faulty or cumbersome problem-solving strategies were directly linked to Ute language and culture. However, Leap failed to compare his results to a national math assessment study that would have shown that Ute students are actually fairly strong in problem-solving skills. A second study by Witthuhn in 1984 investigated the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and math achievement. Although SES and ethnicity are significant predictors of math success, low-income Indian and Black students demonstrated an unpredicted strength in geometry. The study failed to investigate what it was about low SES communities of Blacks and American Indians that allowed them to develop superior geometric ability in spite of educational disadvantages due to poverty. The author's own experience as a child of an Indian father and Swedish mother living in poverty involved low math achievement, low self-esteem regarding math ability, and limited math exposure in the home. Negative school experiences exacerbated her low math achievement. There is a need for researchers to collaborate and develop a united front to pursue resolution of the Indian mathematics problem. (KS)

Descriptors: American Indians, Cognitive Style, Cultural Differences, Elementary Secondary Education, Geometry, Learning Strategies, Mathematics Achievement, Personal Narratives, Poverty, Problem Solving, Racial Differences, Research Problems, Socioeconomic Status

Author: Hankes, Judith Elaine

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=9067&id=ED364387

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