Minority Achievement Gap in Math

[The following post is by Evan Misshula, Spring 2015 Futures Initiative Teaching Fellow. It is cross-posted from his website.]

It is impossible to be a mathematician without being a poet in soul. ~ Sofia Kovalevskaya

Respecting our students helps them (and us)

Linked below is an excellent but long presentation on the gaps in minority achievement in mathematics and the reasons for their persistence from the Mathematical Association of America. It really gets brutally honest at 23:03 when David Kung goes after institutional racism.

I have included a link to the talk because embedding of the talk is disabled by owner.

Highlights on our sorry state include:

  • The difference between the wealth of an median white family and a median black one ( $ 111,000 vs $ 7,000).
  • Historically Black Colleges produce twice the number of math majors per black student
  • Only 20% of minority students intending to major in STEM actually do so. (Only 40% of white students do.)

Highlights on what works to fix it:

  • Anything except a passive lecture
  • Group projects, flipped classrooms, growth mindset
  • Learning communities, mentorship

Anyone who cares about equality, about pedogogy in the mathematics or computer science or about the future of science should watch this talk. If you are teaching for the first time at a minority serving institution, you should be required to watch it.

I hope that Higher Education administrators will also watch it to understand what is causing low completion and retention rates.


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309