Math in a Cultural Context (MCC) is a long-term set of interrelated sponsored research, funded by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education and by support from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Math in a Cultural Context is a rather extraordinary three decades-long collaboration of educators, Yup’ik elders and teachers, mathematicians and math educators, Alaskan school districts, and more recently includes Greenlandic Inuit, Sami, and Pacific Islander partners. We have had the privilege to learn together and understand how the underlying principles that support everyday practical knowledge can inform teaching and learning in a school context. Central to MCC is its long-term collaboration with Yup’ik elders, teachers, and academics that developed into a vibrant learning community. We are deeply inspired by the steadfast support of so many elders who shared their knowledge. Alaskan school districts and teachers opened their classrooms to MCC as we developed, tested, and revised our materials and pedagogical approach.
The outcome of this work is now freely downloadable under Creative Commons. This includes:
Materials Directly Related to Yupiaq Elders
The materials, including but not limited to storybooks and videos of elders, may be freely downloaded and shared. However, any changes to these materials may not be shared. Working with Yupiaq elders and scholars, we painstakingly recorded the elders as they spoke Yup’ik. Recordings were transcribed in Yup’ik, and then translated into English. Each phase of this process was checked and rechecked to ensure that the elders’ words and meaning were preserved while simultaneously making these materials accessible to others. For these reasons these materials may not be altered and shared.
- Ten elementary school supplemental elementary school mathematics curriculum
- Story books that accompany the modules which can also be used as stand alone resources
- Newly published math units
- Newly published traditional stories and activities
- Mathematical tools
- A Teacher's’ Guide to Using Math in a Cultural Context
- Instructional video clips
Resources for Academic Scholars
- Journal Articles
- Experimental and quasi-experimental studies*
- Ethnographically-oriented papers and case studies
- Book Chapters
- Selected Conference Presentation
MCC's culturally-relevant curriculum and pedagogical approach is one of only a few programs that has conducted rigorous efficacy studies coupled with case studies illuminating the variety of ways these materials can be effectively used by Indigenous and non-Indigenous teachers. The math modules have been tested using either a quasi or experimental design with findings repeatedly showing that MCC students outperform comparable control group students who use their regular math curriculum. This occurs at statistically significant levels and with moderate effect sizes.
For further information, please see Journal of American Indian Education 44(3): 2005 and for more recent data see Journal of American Indian Education 46(3): 2007 which includes the results of our most rigorous study to date. Again, the second grade students in this study outperformed their control group counterparts on key subscales such as measuring, representation (graphing and tables), grouping, and place value. This occurred in urban districts and rural districts; novice and experienced teachers using MCC each outperformed novice and experienced teachers using control group materials. This reform-oriented curriculum, designed for Alaskan students, is one of the few curricula that has been so extensively studied and meets the highest research standards. It is one of the very few projects and studies for Alaska Native and American Indian (AN/AI) students that shows such powerful results.