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School of Education

Amanda Mohammad Mirzaei

Ph.D. in Education – Mathematics Education

While completing my master’s in mathematics here at UD, I was able to take some of the Ph.D.- level math education courses and I fell in love with understanding how people understand, learn, and teach mathematics. As I got to know the professors and the program a little bit more, I knew that pursuing a Ph.D. in Education would be a good path for me.

My current research looks at instructors’ experiences of and goals for teaching introductory calculus across high school and college settings. The second year study for math ed specialization students provides a wealth of opportunities to write about and present your own work. I am in the middle of that right now, and my adviser, Dr. Erica Like, and I are both confident that the research I am presently doing will be appropriate for both conferences and academic papers.

Over the last two years, I worked as a research assistant on Dr. Amanda Jansen’s SMiLES: Secondary Mathematics In-the-moment Longitudingal Engagement Study, which focuses on engagement in secondary mathematics classrooms. This assistantship has provided me the chance to write papers and present at conferences as well as learn and practice qualitative research methods and analyses.

One of the most meaningful research experiences I have had was my participation with Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education (RUME) and Mentoring and Partnerships for Women in RUME (MPWR), which was suggested by my professors. This experience gave me a chance to enter a community of researchers with interests similar to mine.  It speaks to the excellence of the faculty at UD that they are determined to assist and support students in finding such a community.

I adore my professors, especially in the mathematics education specialization. I work closely with Dr. Litke, but I feel comfortable reaching out to all of the math ed faculty for advice. I think that this comfort is in part due to the seminar held by math ed group each Friday. During this meeting, graduate students present their research in varying stages and engage in conversations with their student peers and the faculty. These conversations are invaluable, not only for the feedback but for the sense of community they create.

Graduate school is a tremendous and difficult undertaking and we’ve all heard stories about programs that don’t make it easier. I have experienced a rigorous program in pursuing my Ph.D. in Education at UD, and it certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park. However, the support from the faculty and other graduate students has guaranteed that even at its most difficult, juggling the demands of this degree while pursuing a personal life isn’t impossible. I am happy that I chose the University of Delaware for my Ph.D. program and I would choose it again without hesitation.