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ERIC Number: EJ1068245
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1744-1803
Algebra for All? The Meanings That Mothers Assign to Participation in an Algebra Class
Jackson, Kara; Ginsburg, Lynda
Adults Learning Mathematics, v3 n2a p10-28 Nov 2008
In this paper, we report on a series of algebra classes with a group of low-income, African American mothers of elementary-aged children who had limited and negative formal experiences with algebra. We drew from United States reform-oriented elementary mathematics curricular materials in the classes. The women initially arrived to the class out of a desire to support their children's learning but over time also engaged in the class for intellectual purposes. We show how their questions and observations, rooted in their experiences with algebra in secondary education and in their children's elementary mathematics, drove our instruction, and how the women shifted their understandings of who can "do" algebra and of algebraic content. We suggest that the shifts they experienced were supported by three sources of meaning-making specific to algebra: "from within the mathematics, from the problem context, and from that which was exterior to the mathematics/problem context" (Kieran, 2007, p. 711). Our analysis suggests the importance of understanding parents as learners and the potential of reform-oriented elementary curriculum for supporting the learning of adults who had negative experiences with mathematics.
Adults Learning Mathematics. 26 Tennyson Road, Kilburn, London NW6 7SA UK. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: ESI-033753