Sam Hilkey

I’m a first year doctoral student in the SESAME cluster. My research interests include math identities, fractions, and logic puzzles, and I’m excited to see how the three interact!

Background: After studying math in undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, I taught middle and high school math for 5 years and was part of the Math for America Fellowship in LA. Now I’m in my first year of the SESAME doctoral program.

Research Interests: how math identities develop, pedagogical approaches for teaching fractions, how math puzzles affect engagement in learning math.

I’m especially interested in better understanding students’ identities around mathematics. While I was a teacher, I often saw students get discouraged and give up on problems that I knew they could solve. And I saw other students continue to be engaged in problems that took them days to solve. I want to better understand student’s relationships with mathematics in the hopes that someday we can create math classrooms that foster positive, healthy experiences with math. Additionally, I see fractions as a verdant space to study the developments of students’ math identities. Fractions are a really challenging concept (or blend of concepts) that can make math more interesting or more frightening. Finally, I personally love math puzzles, and so I wonder if they might be used to create positive experiences with math that might lead to more positive math identities.