Meet Professor Anthony Matranga for Mathematics Education & Educational Technologies in the SoE

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Anthony Matranga, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor | Mathematics Education & Educational Technologies  

If you’re new to  “What attracted you to CSUSM?”
I am new to CSUSM. What attracted me to the university was the collaborative environment in the school of education that I experienced during my campus visit and continue to experience in my first few months as faculty. Also, I really like the support the university provides for getting started with my research program through the office of research and graduate studies. I also like how the university values my work and potential for success by providing opportunities to attend the new faculty institute. 

How did you become interested in education?
I became interested in mathematics education through my interests in mathematics. In grade school and high school, I enjoyed solving problems and “doing mathematics.” I also enjoyed working with learners of mathematics both in my classes in grade school/high school as well as when I was working on my bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Along with my passion for mathematics and interest in working with learners of mathematics, I became interested in how school children and adults learn mathematics. 

What type of research are you doing?
My research is in the area of mathematics teacher education and concentrates on understanding the emergence of online communities of mathematics teachers that persist and engage generative and productive work. My work also focuses on the role of educational technologies in enhancing teachers’ online collaborative group work as well the way in which these technologies bring teachers together to engage productive norms for doing and teaching mathematics. 

What inspired you to choose that area of research or program you teach?
My inspiration for my research comes from a few areas. First, my perspective on the practice of teaching is one that includes prolonged learning about content and pedagogy with colleagues. I also think that working collaboratively is important for productive work because it provides opportunities to hear different perspectives and debate ideas with others. In my experiences as a high school math teacher, my work was very isolated with little collaboration with colleagues. As I studied extant research it became apparent to me that teacher isolation was a more widespread issue rather than something that was confined to my experiences. Therefore, I wanted to better understand how to use online spaces and the affordances of the internet to support collaborative professional development for teachers.

What do you hope students take away from your classes at the end of each semester?
My goal for my teacher candidates is to support their development of strategies for implementing evidence-based pedagogies. At the foundation of this approach to teaching is eliciting student mathematical thinking, which includes designing rich mathematical tasks, anticipating student thinking and developing questions that can get students talking and sharing their ideas. I also have the goal of supporting teacher candidates in thinking carefully about student thinking and trying to understand what evidence of student thinking means about what students know about mathematics. 

What is the biggest challenge in your job?
The biggest challenge of teaching mathematics teacher candidates is supporting their implementation of pedagogical practices that include supporting students engagement with rich mathematical tasks and orchestrating discussions that provide opportunities for students to connect and extend their mathematical understandings. These pedagogical practices are difficult to implement as they place student thinking at the center of instructional decision making, which creates a highly complex environment that the classroom teacher needs to navigate on a daily basis. 

What would people be surprised to know about you?
While I was in graduate school I ran an independent catering company where I cooked lunch once a week for an office of 30-45 people. 

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I like to cook, especially BBQ and Mediterranean dishes. I also like bicycling and traveling. 

What’s the best part about working at CSUSM?
The best part about working at CSUSM is being in an environment where students and faculty have a passion for learning and welcome different perspectives on education.