Black Parents as Advocates, Motivators, and Teachers of Mathematics. Ebony Mcgee and margaret Beale Spencer

Ebony O. McGee

Her research focuses on the role of racialized experiences and biases in STEM educational and career attainment, problematizing traditional notions of academic success and what is means to be successful yet marginalized, and mathematics identity and identity development in high-achieving students of color.

Margaret Beale Spencer


Data collection and analysis

24 high-achieving African American college students in STEM majors

Narrative data analysis, used to gain insight into parental attitudes and support.

Results: Three major themes

  1. parents’ perseverance and sacrifice, (i.e., steadfastness in advocating for their children’s educational goals despite difficulty or temporary setbacks);
  2. parents instilling self-efficacy in their children (i.e., the extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals); and
  3. parents as mathematics educated teachers and role models in the lives of their children.”

"Although the small sample size restricts these authors from broad generalizations, it is argued that these parents are not anomalies. Consequently, more holistic and complete depictions of Black parenthood are desperately needed to reflect the quality and level of African American parent participation in education."

"Despite the common refrain that African American parents need to learn strategies of how to effectively navigate through the school systems so that they can better advocate for their children’s academic success, this study describes how some parents are not only able to provide effective strategies themselves but are also teaching these skills to their children."

The belief in one's children being able to succeed may be the most important aspect of parental support. This is what makes the study's conclusions believable. With teachers accepting that parents believe in their children and want the best for them, perhaps a change in teacher attitude will arise.

This model is perhaps generalizable to all students and teachers.

Keywords for discussion:

  • Accountability
  • Deficit-thinking
  • System navigation

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