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Meet Robin Anderson: ‘Everyone is a Mathematician’

Robin Anderson, Ph.D., joins the College of Education as an assistant professor of math education

This is part of a series of profiles about faculty who joined the NC State College of Education in 2019-20.

Why did you choose the NC State College of Education?

Having spent the past four years working closely with other mathematics education doctoral students at Stanford, I knew I wanted to be a part of a team of scholars focused on mathematics teaching and learning. The faculty in mathematics education at NC State are leaders in the field, and I am excited to work closely with them. Collaboration is key to all parts of my professional and personal life and I am really excited about the opportunities to work together with them on research and teaching.

Why did you choose a career in education?

I spent five years as a project control intern at a military defense contractor working with budgets during my undergraduate program and for a year after. I found myself wanting a more dynamic profession that directly made an impact on the lives of young people while still working with my love of numbers. I specifically became a mathematics teacher to support young women in STEM fields and mentor all students to become mathematicians.

Why did you choose your specific field?

I chose mathematics education and teacher learning because the apprenticeship of observation still dominates the way many mathematics teachers teach. My goal is to provide pre-service teachers new learning experiences that give them the opportunity to experience student-centered, tasked-based mathematics learning that they often have never experienced in their past schooling.

Why did you pursue a Ph.D.?

I had a lot of questions and concerns about district, state and national guidelines, or lack of guidelines, around teacher professional learning.

What are your research interests and how did you become interested in that topic? 

As a secondary teacher in a small school, I struggled to find a community that supported my professional development. Towards the end of my teaching career, I found online communities that provided rich learning opportunities that met my contextual needs. I returned to Stanford to pursue my Ph.D. to study how teachers learn through informal self-directed online learning.

What is your teaching philosophy? 

Learning shouldn’t feel like a chore. My teaching is grounded in student-centered experiences that allow them to control the direction of their learning. I hope my students see me as a learning partner, not a dictator of their experiences.

What do you hope your students learn from you? 

Math classrooms can be safe learning spaces for all students and everyone is a mathematician.