Recruiting Secondary Mathematics Teachers: Characteristics That Add Up for African American Students

Tamra C. Ragland, Shelly Sheats Harkness


In this article, the authors provide portraits of three mathematics teachers: one European American man, one African American man, and one Middle Eastern woman. All three taught in secondary schools with predominantly African American student populations. Semi-structured interviews and observations were conducted to create a comparative case study that analyzed the teachers’ “star” background experiences and skills (Haberman, 1995). The analysis also focused on whether or not there was a connection between their star background experiences and skills and their use of relational and field-dependent methods of teaching. Data suggest that there was a connection between Haberman’s star framework and teachers who taught relationally and used field-dependent methods. Based on these results, the authors argue that alternative certification programs should broaden their criteria and recruit preservice teachers with star back-ground experiences and skills.


teacher education, mathematics education, urban education

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