Latinas and Problem Solving: What They Say and What They Do

Paula Guerra, Woong Lim


In this article, the authors present three adolescent Latinas’ perceptions of ideal mathematical competencies, their perception of their individual “abilities” in mathematics, and their work on a mathematics problem-solving task. Results indicate that these Latinas recognize flexible mathematics as the ideal mathematical competency in problem solving but demonstrate rigid mathematics in the problem-solving task. Reasons for the discrepancy between the three Latinas’ perceptions of ideal mathematical competencies and their own work on mathematical tasks are discussed. Implications related to opportunities for girls of color to pursue careers in STEM fields are discussed as it relates to flexible problem-solving skills in mathematics.


Latinas; problem solving; urban education; social justice

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Illuminating Urban Excellence