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School of Education and Human Development University of Colorado Denver

School of Education and Human Development
 

Heather Johnson

Associate 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:

  • Curriculum and Methods in Secondary Mathematics — UEDU 4300/5300
  • Assessment in Secondary Mathematics — UEDU 4301/5301
  • Critique of Mathematics Education Research - MTED 5050/7050
  • A World of (Different) Numbers - MTED 5621
  • Expanding Conceptions of Algebra - MTED 5622
  • Geometrical Ways of Reasoning - MTED 5623

My research interests:

My program of research focuses primarily on middle and high school students' reasoning about quantities that change together (covariational reasoning). Important, covariational reasoning is an overarching form of reasoning, playing a role in students' reasoning related to key mathematical concepts, including the difficult to learn, gatekeeping concepts of ratio, function, and rate. I have used the following research questions to guide my investigation: (1) How do secondary students form and interpret relationships between changing quantities when interacting with mathematical tasks involving multiple representations of quantities that change together? (2) How can teacher/researchers design mathematical tasks to engender students' forming and interpreting relationships between quantities that change together?

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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