Dorothy Y. White, a professor in the department of mathematics and science education, recently received the inaugural Karen D. King Excellence in Advocacy Award from the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) for her advocacy and contributions to mathematics teacher education.
King was a mathematics education researcher and educator who challenged those in the field to focus their research, teaching and service on ensuring students receive a quality education. “It is an honor to be the first recipient of this award and to know that my colleagues see my work as important and valuable in supporting Karen King’s legacy,” White said.
White—whose research centers on access, equity and culture in mathematics education and teachers’ professional learning communities—hopes to improve the fields of mathematics and science education by encouraging students, teachers and colleagues to share their knowledge and experiences with others.
“My research is collaborative by design because I believe educational solutions can only be solved when all stakeholders think and work together,” she said. “Therefore, my research projects have included mathematics teachers and coaches, graduate students, educational researchers, and most recently, undergraduate students.”
Ultimately, White hopes to inform her students of persistent issues related to education and empower them to become change agents. Her commitment to equity in teaching also includes mentoring graduate students to help them develop the skills needed to navigate the field as they work to improve teacher education.
For her research, White develops models for teacher education programs to investigate prospective teachers’ awareness of complex factors, including race, gender, socioeconomic status and language, and how these factors contribute to students’ mathematics learning in classrooms.
She is currently working on CAM Up! (Cultural Awareness in Mathematics Unit Project) to replicate and study one of her models with colleagues at historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, as well as UGA, a predominantly white institution.
“My research, teaching and service are grounded in the fundamental belief that students who are historically underrepresented in mathematics, specifically Black and Latinx students, deserve to be taught by teachers who are culturally conscious, mathematically competent and actively engaged in reforming mathematics education,” she said.
Her second area of research examines how mathematics education communities develop, operate and impact mathematics teaching and learning. With the help of doctoral students and teachers from local elementary and middle schools, White helped form several professional learning communities to address the challenges and possibilities of urban schools.
Most recently, she developed and refined the Taxonomy of Mathematical Strengths, a diagnostic assessment, to help teachers and students discover and address students’ mathematical strengths during instruction.
“These research studies underscore my commitment to scholarship that facilitates and celebrates the reciprocal relationship between mathematics education research and teaching practices,” said White. “I have had the opportunity to enjoy working and learning with teachers, coaches, graduate students and colleagues to understand and create equitable mathematics classrooms for all students.”
White is the first Black woman hired, tenured and promoted to full professor in mathematics education at UGA.