Role with It: Examining the Impact of Instructor Role Models in Introductory Mathematics Courses on Student Experiences

Tyler James Sullivan, Matthew K. Voigt, Naneh Apkarian, Antonio Estevan Martinez, Jessica Ellis Hagman

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Contributing to the effort to diversify the demographics in STEM disciplines, we examined the effect of role models in students' perceptions of precalculus and calculus courses. Drawing from Dasgupta's stereotype inoculation model (2011a) in which ingroup experts can serve as “social vaccines” to protect against negatively stereotyped groups, we tested the impacts of four different social markers instructors might share with their students: gender, race, sexual identity, and First-Generation College Student status (FGCS). Data from this study comes from student survey responses (n=19,191) on the Student Post-Secondary Instructional Practices Survey as part of the NSF-funded Progress Through Calculus project, which examined student reports of introductory mathematics programs across the United States. We analyzed the data using a cumulative link mixed model on the survey items related to instructional practice, academic performance, and affective beliefs to determine which items exhibited a minoritized role model effect. Out of the 58 survey items, 25 items exhibited a statically significant minoritized role mode effect: seven for gender, nine for race, three for sexuality, and fourteen for FGCS. Our results indicate impacts of a minoritized role model effect that varied based on social markers, and while most were consistently a positive predictor, there were some instances of a role model contributing a negative predictor. More studies are needed to further understand the complex phenomenon of role models in calculus courses. However, it is clear that if you want to support a large variety of students, you need a diverse group of instructors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021


  • Calculus
  • Diversity
  • First-generation college students
  • Gender
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Race
  • Role-models
  • STEM
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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