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MCA: The Neurophysiology of Teaching Secondary Mathematics for Transcendent Purpose and Cultural Relevance


Sep 01, 2021


Aug 31, 2024
Funding Agency
National Science Foundation

Jamaal Matthews, Ph.D. will seek to combine classroom observation and neurophysiological methods to elucidate the link between teacher pedagogy and student meaning-making in secondary mathematics classrooms.


Specifically, Dr. Matthews will examine how teachers’ culturally supportive mathematics practices engage and shape adolescents’ brain networks in ways that predict their math identity, achievement, and sense of purpose over time. In addition, he will assess the neurophysiology of how critical consciousness develops in mathematics teachers.

Critical consciousness reflects a cogent understanding of privilege, power, racism, and the role these issues play in the miseducation of historically marginalized students. These beliefs also predict teachers’ use of culturally responsive and relevant practices and underscores the essentiality of honoring historically marginalized students’ diverse funds of knowledge. Altogether, this work synthesizes neurobiological, developmental, and culturally situated perspectives to explore adolescent’s and teachers’ socio-emotional cognition in secondary mathematics classrooms. To capture this opportunity, the PI will receive disciplinary and methodological training for three years from a collaborating partner and thought leader in social-affective neuroscience, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang. Through their collaboration Matthews and Immordino-Yang ultimately hope to co-construct novel research hypotheses that synergize their collective expertise and create an asset-based cultural neuroscientific approach that is inclusive of the experiences of diverse and disenfranchised youth.

Primary Investigator(s)

Associate Professor, Marsal Family School of Education

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Award Start Date
Sep 15, 2018
Award End Date
Aug 31, 2024
Award Start Date
Aug 01, 2018
Award End Date
Jul 31, 2024