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HOW COUNSELORS POSITION LOW-INCOME AFRICAN AMERICAN PRIMARY SCHOOL GIRLS AS MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE LEARNERS Cirecie West-Olatunji, Ph. D. Lauren Shure.

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Presentation on theme: "HOW COUNSELORS POSITION LOW-INCOME AFRICAN AMERICAN PRIMARY SCHOOL GIRLS AS MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE LEARNERS Cirecie West-Olatunji, Ph. D. Lauren Shure."— Presentation transcript:

1 HOW COUNSELORS POSITION LOW-INCOME AFRICAN AMERICAN PRIMARY SCHOOL GIRLS AS MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE LEARNERS Cirecie West-Olatunji, Ph. D. Lauren Shure Dadria Lewis University of Florida

2 Overview of the Study  Only a small percentage of African American females show an interest in mathematics and science education  The researchers interviewed 3 female school counselors in low-resourced elementary schools to explore how they view African American girls as mathematics and science learners  Outcomes of the study suggest that these counselors hold low expectations for these students (Baratelli, A., West- Olatunji, C., Pringle, R., Adams, T. & Shure, L., 2007).

3 The Problem  In the last few decades African Americans have made strides in science and mathematics yet only a small percentage of these students actually become scientists, mathematicians, and engineers (Atwater, 2000).  Due to greater emphasis on gender disparities, girls have made significant strides in mathematics and science achievement  However, African American girls, particularly those from low income communities, have received very little attention in this area (West-Olatunji, Pringle, Adams, Baratelli, Goodman & Maxis, 2007).

4 Review of the Literature  Ethnocentric monoculturalism exists in many schooling environments (West-Olatunji, C., Shure, L., Pringle, R., Adams, T., Baratelli, A., Lewis, D., Milton, K., & Flesner, D., 2008; Cholewa & West-Olatunji, 2008).  Many children living in poverty do not receive equitable educational experiences (Fuller & Tutwiler, 1998).  Counselors often serve as gatekeepers to mathematics and science learning opportunities for African American girls and other socially marginalized students (Kahle & Meece, 1994).

5 Theoretical Framework  Positionality theory defined: Individuals are defined by their social positioning in relation to their network of relationships; this positioning determines the amount of power a person has (Harley, Jolivette, McCormic & Tice, 2002).

6 Methods  Semi structured interviews were approximately 50 minutes in duration and held on the school campus  3 counselors in low-resourced elementary schools in the southeastern region of the U. S. with predominately African American student populations  Informed consent  Interviews conducted by a White, female doctoral student in counselor education

7 Data Analysis Tapes were transcribed and analyzed by: a) Listening to the audiotapes of the focus group session and interviews. b) Listening to the audiotapes while reading through the transcript of the interviews (to assess for accuracy). c) Reading through the transcript while highlighting comments or phrases that were representative of the participants’ experiences. d) Clustering highlighted statements into summary statements in the margins of the transcript. e) Creating domains of meanings from the clustered summary statements.

8 Results: Prominent Themes  Awareness: D isconnection between theory and practice  Knowledge: Use or disuse of students’ funds of knowledge  Skills: Role confusion/diffusion

9 Prominent Themes: Awareness  “It’s really important for children to meet people and see people doing these things. And if you want girls to have high achievement in math, they have to see women doing well in math and science. They can’t just go to their pediatrician whose probably a white male and say they want to be a doctor, because they won’t make that connection with him”.  Counselor 2  “I don't see them being CPAs at Price Waterhouse ”. “They really can do anything they want to do”.  Counselor 3

10 Prominent Themes: Knowledge  “In order to have math and science centers, you would have to let the children do a little bit of exploration. I think it’s harder to do here because there are so many disciplinary issues”.  Counselor 1  “I think they enjoy hands on, when they can create something, or build something…I think relating it to the everyday, even if it’s highly complex, like algebra, there’s a way to make them understand [it] in something that they do every day”.  Counselor 2

11 Prominent Themes: Skills  “You know, to tell you the truth I haven’t spent a lot of time dealing with math and science in the classroom so I haven’t thought about it. I have thought about behavior in the classroom ”.  Counselor 1  I brought a lot of people in this year in terms of career…people from science. I wanted it to be a large variety. But I also wanted it to align with what they were studying. So I tried to make it happen while they were studying that unit”.  Counselor 3

12 Counselor Positionality and Cultural Competence Awareness -Cognizant of own biases -Cognizant of cultural differences -Lack of action -Unintentional Knowledge -No ownership -Disconnected -Lack of action Skills -Lack of meaning -Lack of context -Unintentional A Skills and Awareness -Unintentional -Cognizant of cultural differences -Cognizant of own biases C Skills and Knowledge -Marginalizing -Disconnected -Lack of consciousness Master Counselor -Culturally-responsive -Appreciative of differences -Cognizant of own biases -Sees possibilities and utilizes strengths B Awareness and Knowledge -Theorizing -No ownership -Lack of action

13 Discussion  Low expectations of low-income African American girls’ achievement likely has implications for their future experiences in mathematics and science  Faculty partnerships for professional development can facilitate movement towards 21 st century counselor role  21 st Century Counselor:  Consultant for teachers and other school personnel  Advocate for marginalized students and their families.  Facilitate home-school collaboration by increasing cultural understanding and respectful two-way communication (Amatea & West-Olatunji, 2007; Bemak, 2000).

14 Future Research  Longitudinal study that investigates the impact of cultural diversity training on school counselors’ cultural competence and clinical efficacy in culturally diverse school communities.  Investigation of the relationship between racial/cultural identity and counselor effectiveness with culturally diverse students in low-resourced schools.  Holistic exploration of how African American school girls are positioned as mathematics and science learners by counselors, teachers, and parents.

15 Selected References  Amatea, E., & West-Olatunji, C. A. (2007). Joining the conversation about educating our poorest children: Emerging leadership roles for school counselors in high poverty schools. Professional School Counseling, 11,  Atwater, M. M. (2000). Equity for Black Americans in precollege science. Science Education, 84,  Baratelli, A., West-Olatunji, C., Pringle, R., Adams, T. & Shure, L. (2007). Positioning toward mathematics and science learning: An examination of factors affecting low- income, African American girls. Educational Resources Information Clearinghouse - ERIC No: ED496526, pp  Bemak, F. (2000). Transforming the role of the counselor to provide leadership in educational reform through collaboration. Professional School Counseling, 3,  Cholewa, B., & West-Olatunji, C. (2008). Exploring the relationship among cultural discontinuity, psychological distress, and academic achievement outcomes for low- income, culturally diverse students. Professional School Counseling, 12,

16 Selected References (cont’d)  Fuller, M. L. & Tutwiler, S. W. (1998). Chapter 12: Poverty: The Enemy of Children and Families. In Home-school relations: Working successfully with parents and families. Allyn and Bacon.  Harley, D.A., Jolivette, K., McCormick, K., & Tice, K. (2002). Race, class, and gender: A constellation of positionalities with implications for counseling. Multicultural Counseling and Development, 30, Kahle, & Meece, (1994).  West-Olatunji, C., Pringle, R., Adams, T., Baratelli, A., Goodman, R., & Maxis, S. (2007). How African American middle school girls position themselves as mathematics and science learners. International Journal of Learning, 14,  West-Olatunji, C., Shure, L., Pringle, R., Adams, T., Baratelli, A., Lewis, D., Milton, K., & Flesner, D. (2008). Increasing mathematics and science achievement among low- income, African American youth using strength-based interventions. International Journal on Learning, 15, 1-10.

17 Contact Information Cirecie A. West-Olatunji Assistant Professor Department of Counselor Education Counselor Education University of Florida 1204 Norman Hall, PO Box Gainesville, FL (352) , x359 Fax: Lauren Shure Doctoral Student Department of Counselor Education Counselor Education University of Florida 1215 Norman Hall, PO Box Gainesville, FL (352) , x200 Fax: Dadria Lewis Doctoral Student Department of Counselor Education Counselor Education University of Florida 1215 Norman Hall, PO Box Gainesville, FL (352) , x200 Fax:


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