Ball State welcomes Assistant Professor of Mathematical Sciences, Dr. Andrew Gatza to the College of Sciences and Humanities faculty. His timely research in mathematics and social justice in the classroom is paving the way for a more equitable education system. Of his research focus, Dr. Gatza says, “I believe mathematical learning and critical race consciousness can be mutually supportive. I also see this as one way we might engage with students in creating a common context and safe space to have deep conversations about race and racism, a traditionally taboo topic despite its pervasive and foundational nature in shaping our education system.”
Dr. Gatza’s Social Justice Research
Dr. Gatza is a former Indianapolis mathematics teacher, and attended Indiana University and IUPUI for his doctoral work in Mathematics Education and Urban Education Studies, respectively. He studies issues of mathematical teaching and learning as well as systems of power and oppression. He explains, “My research takes place at the intersection of mathematical learning and racial justice. Specifically, my work focuses on learners’ perspectives (middle grades students) in using a quantitative and combinatorial approach to nonlinear meanings of multiplication to investigate issues of racial bias in jury selection.”
Dr. Gatza describes having always enjoyed the challenge and problem solving nature of mathematics, and attributes his inquisitive nature to entering the field. As he began teaching at the secondary level, he became increasingly aware of and troubled by both pervasive systemic inequities in our society as well as the role mathematics often plays as a gatekeeper to opportunities. He began to ask the questions that became his research focus: how might we work together to create more engaging and humanizing experiences in mathematics education? How might we use mathematics to critique and disrupt social inequities?
First Year Goals
Dr. Gatza describes his goals for this first year at Ball State as threefold: teaching, community, and research. In teaching, one of his goals is to support pre-service elementary education teachers (PSTs) in mathematics content and methods courses. He wants his students to become socially conscious, inclusive-oriented educators who are able to understand and support their students in mathematical ways of reasoning and cultivate positive mathematics identities. “I see this process as beginning with supporting PSTs in feeling capable and confident in their own abilities as mathematics doers and learners,” he says.
Dr. Gatza’s was drawn to the supportive and friendly faculty at Ball State, and he is excited for the collaborative interdisciplinary opportunities and collaboration within his department. He hopes his research and involvement in the Ball State community will help create a more inclusive campus space. As part of this effort, he has joined the Antiracism and Intersectionality Faculty Learning Community and looks forward to this necessary work together.
He is also excited about his dissertation research with middle grades students at the intersection of mathematical learning and racial justice and hopes to refine this work for publication.
Outside of the Classroom
Dr. Gatza and his partner, Courtney, really enjoy hiking and visiting national parks. They are currently on a quest to visit all, now 62, U.S. National Parks. He also really enjoys playing board games.
As a final thought, Dr. Gatza expresses his eagerness to engage in the larger academic community. “While I am situated in mathematics education, my ‘book shelf’ extends beyond to include areas, such as critical race studies, feminist and gender studies, cultural studies, and sociology. All that to say, I see my work as necessarily interdisciplinary and I am always looking for new and creative ways to collaborate and learn with others within and outside of mathematics. Please reach out! I look forward to meeting everyone.”
Welcome to Ball State, Dr. Andrew Gatza!
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