Prof Laura Black


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My research interests focus on learner identities in mathematics and their relationship with social class, gender, and ethnicity and family aspirational narratives. I am particularly interested in the use of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) to conceptualise identity and how it is mediated by pedagogic practice(s), the production of capital exchange (using Bourdieu) and the use and exchange value attached to mathematics.  

 Mathematical Identifications in Early Childhood

More recently, I have begun to research how young children (aged 5 to 6 years) express mathematical identifications and how such expressions are mediated by their class position and the nature of the home-school relationship. Here, I am interested in the contradictions and alignment between embedded ‘home’ mathematics and the formal school curriculum and how such relationships are manifest in young children’s emotional expressions about maths. I have received funding from the University of Manchester’s strategic fund to develop research projects in this area and we are currently working on publications. See this short animation

Research on mathematical identities in Post 16 and Higher Education

I have worked on two major ESRC funded ‘Transmaths’ projects which looked at young people’s developing identities in relation to mathematics and STEM subjects at post 16 and as they transition into university (see ). This work has primarily focused on narrative analysis of interviews with adolescents and has looked at how engagement with mathematics is linked to future aspirations (a leading identity). I was also involved in planning the ESRC seminar series on Mathematical Relationships: Identities and Participation, which led to the publication of an edited collection under the same title.

 Pedagogy as a site for the (re-production) of inequality in education

I have a long term interest in the role pedagogic practices play in the (re)production of educational inequalities. My doctoral research focused on classroom discourse as a site for inequality and I have published four papers/chapters on this topic. I have also recently co-authored a chapter which looks at how children are positioned through classroom discourse and how this mediates their access to capital in the primary mathematics classroom. 



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Activity: Participating in or organising event(s)Participating in a conference, workshop, exhibition, performance, inquiry, course etc

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditorial work

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