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School of Education and Human Development University of Colorado Denver

School of Education and Human Development

Heather Johnson

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education

My story:

I spent the first 13 years of my career teaching mathematics to high school students in south central Pennsylvania. During that time, the interactions that I had with young people impacted me in ways I never could have expected. I thought harder about how students came to learn mathematics, why certain concepts were so difficult for students to learn, and how I could increase the effectiveness of my instruction. My passion for teaching grew deeper the longer I taught, and I wanted my work to extend to students beyond my classroom. I began to work with teachers from my district and across the state, and these experiences convinced me that I needed to learn more about mathematics teaching and learning. As a result, I decided to pursue a PhD, which gave me the opportunity to investigate questions that had emerged from my practice as a classroom teacher. 

My Students at the University of Colorado Denver:

I have the opportunity to teach prospective and practicing teachers working towards different degrees and licenses. Prospective teachers who participate in my courses can expect to deepen their own understanding of mathematics, develop understanding of how students learn mathematics, and become equipped to teach in culturally responsive, socially just ways that support students’ learning of mathematics. Practicing teachers who participate in my courses can expect to develop their ability to utilize research to inform their practice, deepen their understanding of how students learn mathematics, and become better equipped to teach students mathematics in ways that are equitable and socially just.

Classes I teach at the University of Colorado Denver School of Education & Human Development:

  • Mathematics for Elementary Teachers— MATH 3040
  • Curriculum and Methods in Secondary Mathematics — UEDU 4300/5300
  • Assessment in Secondary Mathematics — UEDU 4301/5301
  • Teaching Elementary Mathematics I - UEDU 4002/5002
  • Teaching Elementary Mathematics II - UEDU 4003/5003
  • Critique of Mathematics Education Research - MTED 5050/7050

My research interests:

In broad terms, in my research I investigate secondary students' mathematical reasoning. In particular, I have focused my investigation on students' reasoning about quantities that covary, or change together. The goal of my research has been to support students' quantitative reasoning related to a critical math concept, rate of change.

The following questions have guided my research: (1) How do secondary students reason about quantities involved in rate of change when interacting with mathematical tasks involving multiple representations of covarying quantities? (2) How could mathematical tasks be designed to support students' use of quantitative and covariational reasoning to make predictions and create representations indicating how quantities might change in relationship to each other?

My hobbies:

Hiking and cycling are my favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors. When I am indoors, I love baking pies from scratch and solving New York Times Sunday crosswords.

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