Racial Equity: Expanding Mathematical Futures Through Multimedia Storytelling

June 15th, 2023 - May 31st, 2026 | PROJECT

Despite evidence that shows Black students' positive attitudes towards math at young ages, many of these students become less interested in math due to both the pedagogy and content to which they are exposed, as well as the dominant meta-narrative of a limited conception of their ability and interest as learners. This project seeks to broaden the mathematical imagination and aspirations of Black and other underserved mathematics students in both in-school and out-of-school environments. Building on prior work that supported the collection and curation of a set of digital mathematics stories shared by Black mathematicians, this project aims to design a digital platform featuring these stories and supplementing them with interactive activities and learning resources aligned with math content topics, and explore the impact of these resources on the math learning and engagement of children and adolescents, as well as the adults in their lives who engage with these resources. The project aims to achieve two primary outcomes. First, to explore how storytelling disseminated in in-school and out-of-school spaces through digital media influences intergenerational math practices and perceptions among children, older adolescents, and the adults in their lives. Second, to further disrupt racial inequities in mathematics education by developing culturally responsive and inclusive instructional practices and systematically disseminating them to partners across a variety of social and cultural institutions and media platforms

This project leverages the work of authentic partnerships as a means to systematically foster innovative pedagogy in multiple environments while building Black learners' mathematical identity and a sense of belongingness in mathematics. The research team will conduct a mixed-methods study to gain insight into the impact of media-enhanced storytelling and societal engagement across media platforms. After reviewing the existing collection of video narratives and conducting exploratory screenings with resource toolkits to collect feedback, the project team will design the interactive database that will house the multimedia stories and supplementary media materials that include interactive web elements (e.g. video annotation, multimodal responses). Next, a second round of screenings with cross-sections of community partners will take place, followed finally by a focus on community engagement by widely disseminating across multiple social institutions and media platforms including but not limited to the National Urban League, the NAACP, the Mathematicians of the African Diaspora website, Mathematically Gifted and Black website, as well as schools, museums, libraries, and other existing STEM and math initiatives. This applied study seeks to advance racial equity by harnessing the power of rich storytelling traditions through a multimedia platform. The dissemination of this database and the findings about its impact will contribute to building new spaces for mathematics education that serve to deepen understanding of mathematics by students and others in their networks of support, and influence commonly held perceptions of mathematics by young people and of themselves as mathematical doers in order to empower underserved students to activate and pursue their interests in mathematics.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Team Members

Erica Walker, Principal Investigator, Columbia University
Robin Wilson, Co-Principal Investigator
Lalitha Vasudevan, Co-Principal Investigator, Columbia University


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST)Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL);
Award Number: 2224615
Funding Amount: $1,300,000


Access and Inclusion: Black | African American Communities | Ethnic | Racial
Audience: Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Mathematics
Resource Type: Project Descriptions | Projects
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Media and Technology

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This material is supported by National Science Foundation award DRL-2229061, with previous support under DRL-1612739, DRL-1842633, DRL-1212803, and DRL-0638981. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained within InformalScience.org are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

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