"Culturally Responsive Practices: Insights from a High‐Quality Math Afterschool Program Serving Underprivileged Latinx Youth"
Liu is currently working on a project funded by Mott Foundation to examine after-school quality and Templeton Character Development project with Simpkins and Chancellors Professor Emerita Deborah Vandell.
High‐quality afterschool programs (ASPs) are opportunities to diversify the ways that Latinx youth from economically underprivileged communities experience STEM learning. Utilizing qualitative methods, based on the experiences and perspectives of low‐income Latinx middle school participants of a math enrichment ASP in Southern California, we identified four culturally responsive practices: (1) the promotion of an inclusive, safe, and respectful program climate, (2) engaging in personal conversations, (3) facilitating opportunities for mutual and math learning across diverse cultures and perspectives, and (4) the promotion of math and a range of social‐emotional skills across contexts. These practices helped youth feel more connected to the program, their peers, and program staff (college mentors); provided a platform for youth voice and contribution to the processes of teaching and learning; facilitated opportunities for skill development and practice across the different contexts of youth’s lives; interrelated with Latinx cultural values; and helped to promote youth’s engagement and math learning. Importantly, youth’s relationships with their mentors was a significant aspect of their experiences and perceptions of these practices. We argue that culturally responsive practices are necessary to achieve high‐quality programs and provide specific implications for how ASPs can implement them in the design and implementation of their programs. Culturally responsive practices are a necessary and defining aspect of program quality. A safe, inclusive and respectful climate is fundamental for culturally responsive practices. Engaging in personal conversations, including small talk, matter and can make a difference. Mutual learning and the promotion of skills across contexts is important for youth voice and contribution. Both positive program structure and staff practices are necessary for culturally responsive programs.