KSU student incorporates cultural background into research project

Betsy Barron
Betsy Barron
KENNESAW, Ga. | Jun 20, 2024

Betsy Barron is a senior elementary education major whose research project aims to engage students based on their cultural background in subjects such as literacy and mathematics.

Barron is conducting her project, “Culturally Relevant Math Lessons and Motivation in Elementary Education," under the mentorship of professor of mathematics education Paula Guerra and through the Office of Undergraduate Research's Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP).

The project engages 20-30 Marietta City Schools students who recently finished first or second grade and were identified by their teachers as needing extra support. Students will participate in Fast Start Academy, a summer program held annually by Kennesaw State University's Bagwell College of Education.

Barron will record data answering questions such as whether Latinx students in the program respond positively to culturally relevant lessons in mathematics, show growth in their mathematics understanding, and show clear engagement in their culturally mathematics lessons compared to students who do not participate in the experiment.

Barron describes herself as a proud Latina student who is the first in her family to attend college, but she found that she didn’t have a single teacher who looked like her until she reached college. She wants to be that representation in the classroom for students like herself and ensure that students of all different backgrounds feel seen.

“I want to let the students know that they are valued and that their culture can be an important and powerful tool in their education,” she said.

An example of Barron’s work includes using a children’s story book about a child traveling with his father from Texas to Mexico to show the relationship between distance and time. The students will be asked how far their parents commute and the time it takes for them to travel and how much time is left over after they arrive home for the evening. This gives the students the opportunity to practice skills like addition and subtraction, but uses their own life experiences to increase their retention.