The Mathematical Association of America has awarded Estrella Johnson, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, its 2022 Annie and John Selden Prize for Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education.

According to the association’s website, the award honors “a researcher who has established a significant record of published research in undergraduate mathematics education and who has been in the field for at most 10 years.” Johnson’s research centers on the pedagogical practices of mathematicians with the goal of better understanding and supporting high-quality, ambitious teaching in undergraduate mathematics classrooms.

An ongoing focus of Johnson’s research rests on inclusion and diversity – both in the mathematics classroom and in the sciences more broadly. With that interest, Johnson also serves as the assistant dean of inclusion and diversity in the Virginia Tech College of Science.

In a release from the Mathematical Association of America, Johnson said, “It is an immense honor to receive this award from a research community that means so much to me, both professionally and personally. For this award to be dedicated by Annie and John Selden just makes it all the more meaningful in a year when we are reflecting on the life, contributions, and passing of John Selden.”

According to the association, Johnson’s work "encompasses both qualitative and quantitative research methods and includes studies of individuals and classrooms as well as large national surveys. She has conducted basic research, design research, and evaluation research: basic research about student reasoning and learning in abstract algebra; design research to develop, test, and refine instructional resources; and evaluation research on the dissemination and implementation of these resources.”

Her research has been published in Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, the Journal of Mathematical Behavior, the Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, the International Journal for Undergraduate Mathematics Education, the International Journal of STEM Education, and more.

“Estrella’s work goes to the heart of what we stand for in the College of Science,” said Kevin Pitts, dean of the college. “Her research seeks to find ways to integrate new teaching methods and materials in mathematics education, showing that we are constantly innovating in order to reach all students in ways that best support learning.”

Peter Haskell, interim chair of the Department of Mathematics, said, “Estrella’s research program is unusually broad. Based on both large-scale surveys and close classroom observations, her contributions range from pre-calculus through upper division classes as well as across STEM disciplines. Her recent work on pedagogy and equity raises very interesting questions.”

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary mathematics education from New Mexico State University in 2007 and a master’s degree in the science of teaching mathematics in 2009 and a doctoral degree in mathematics education in 2013, respectively, from Portland State University in Oregon.

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