Juanita M. Silva


Assistant Professor of Math Education at Texas State University


B.S., Mathematics, The University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D., STEM Education, The University of Texas at Austin


Mathematics education K-12; equity; children’s mathematical thinking; STEM Integration; emerging bilinguals; mathematical agency; Latino/a learners; and special education


Jill Marshall


When Latina/o emerging bilinguals are identified as having difficulties learning mathematics or learning disabilities pertaining to mathematics, the prevailing assumption is that these students need a specific type of intervention to “remediate” mathematical performance. The dominant means of such an intervention is defined as a “pull out” instructional environment where teachers model procedures, give directives, and focus students’ attention on memorization strategies and procedural skill (e.g. Brosvic, Dihoff, Epstein, & Cook, 2006). Yet, this can become problematic because these students are denied instruction that focuses on engagement of mathematical practices, the practices of solving problems and sharing their thinking. An alternate approach would be to engage these students in instructional experiences that embrace difference as diversity and promote their participation in mathematical practices (Empson, 2003). Positioning Latina/o emerging bilinguals identified as struggling or as having disabilities as mathematical thinkers, problem solvers, and having agency could promote access to and opportunities to participate in advanced mathematics coursework. This study documents the participation of ELs who are identified as struggling in mathematics or as having a learning disability (LD) in solving and discussing problems during a series of problem solving sessions. To document the mathematical agency exhibited by three Latina/o emerging bilinguals I draw from children’s mathematical thinking and mathematical practices that position children as competent learners. Through the data collected in a teaching experiment I seek to answer the following questions: How do Latina/o emerging bilingual student with learning disabilities (LD) or Tier 2 identification labels develop mathematical agency through their participation in mathematical discussions about problem solving?


Juanita Silva received her Ph.D. from the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She earned her B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to beginning her doctorate work, she taught middle school mathematics for five years at a public school in Dallas, TX with culturally diverse populations. Her research examines the role of instruction in fostering mathematical agency among traditionally marginalized student populations. Her work focuses on the use of children’s mathematical thinking in mathematical discussions with Latina/o emerging bilinguals who have identified learning disability and struggling labels.

Silva is a consultant and previous graduate research assistant to the NSF Career Grant Fractional Activities and Assessments for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT) for students with Learning Disabilities (2014-Present), under the supervision of Jessica Hunt. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Mathematics Behavior and Learning Disability Quarterly. Silva has also served as a teaching assistant of UTeach courses, assistant instructor to mathematics methods courses, and teaching assistant in an upper division course in the mathematics department at UT Austin.