Dr. Chris Austin joins the Ball State Department of Mathematical Sciences as an Assistant Teaching Professor.

Chris AustinWhat is your journey to Ball State?

I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mathematics from Murray State University, which prepared me well for several years of teaching mathematics at the high school, community college, and university levels. Throughout that time, I continued to refine my professional vision within the field of mathematics education, which ultimately led me to earn a PhD in Learning, Teaching and Curriculum (emphasis in Mathematics Education) from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Although I continue to work on research, teaching has always been at the center of how I define my professional identity.

Prior to joining Ball State, I was an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Southern Maine. I enjoyed the work I did and the colleagues I collaborated with enough that it would have taken a very special opportunity to get me to leave, and Ball State was the rare place that could provide that opportunity. As I learned more about the faculty members I now call colleagues, it became evident that Ball State’s reputation for preparing high-quality mathematics teachers was in very capable hands. I am excited to identify ways that I can contribute to our ongoing support of prospective and practicing teachers of mathematics.

What are your research and teaching interests?

I tend to be drawn to courses focused on mathematics content. Although I particularly enjoy geometric topics, I revel in any opportunity to explore sense-making and meaning-making with students. I find it fascinating how the varied ways we communicate mathematical ideas with each other are often loaded with assumptions and idiosyncrasies, and how those ways of communicating impact students’ perceptions of their own abilities. Few things make me happier than when a student uses intuitive reasoning that they don’t recognize as mathematical to gain insight into a problem we are working on in class, and I can’t help but think that the norms we establish for communication in our classrooms are a big key to unlocking the mathematical potential of many such students.

What are some of your goals for your first year here?

I moved to Muncie about a week before the fall semester started, so my biggest goal so far has been to get settled into my new position as smoothly as possible. As we near the end of one semester and begin the next, my other priority is to find specific ways to engage in the various communities that exist within the department, within Ball State, and within Muncie. A few options have already become evident, and I look forward to pursuing those further to see which ones have the legs to benefit others in meaningful ways.

What do you like to do in your free time?

My two (soon to be three) daughters have taken over the majority of my time for the past 7 years, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I’m not playing with My Little Ponies or LOL Surprise dolls, I spend my time cooking or undertaking woodworking projects. I would eventually like to find the time to get back into reading for fun, playing music, or fishing.

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