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Jessica Hunt

Friday Institute Fellow

Associate Professor, Mathematics Education and Special Education, Teacher Education and Learning Sciences

Poe Hall 528D

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Jessica Hunt began her career in education as a middle school mathematics teacher in a technology demonstration school in Florida. From that work, she grew to love teaching students at risk for mathematics difficulties or disabilities. Hunt argues that mathematics instruction for these students should (a) uncover strengths, (b) give access to their mathematical reasoning, and (c) support the advance of that reasoning.

Research Description

Jessica Hunt’s research supports a re-conceptualization of research and instructional practice using practices from both mathematics education and special education such that students with disabilities can build mathematics proficiency.  Specifically, she designs and tests asset based learning environments and interventions, such as game enhanced curriculums, to understand, support, and extend processes of student learning.  Mounting empirical evidence across both fields suggests educational disparities these students experience are caused by opportunity gaps that stem from remedial instruction as opposed to instruction that affords students access to their own reasoning from which to build in mathematics proficiency and agency.

Jessica Hunt’s work has three focal areas:

  • Documenting initial or informal conceptual understandings of students with LD within targeted mathematical areas (e.g., number; rational number),
  • Documenting and refining trajectories of how conceptual growth within the targeted areas occurs and can be nurtured through instruction,
  • Designing and testing new instructional programs and practices based upon students’ trajectories of learning.

Jessica Hunt’s current and past projects, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Institute for Educational Sciences (IES), and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC-DPI), include “Model Mathematics Education”, “Network for In Vivo Research (NIER),  “Fraction Activities and Assessment for Conceptual Teaching”, “At Home Learning Initiative”, and “Professional Learning Online Modules: Math for Young Children”. Hunt received NSF’s Early CAREER Research Award to fund her program of research. She currently works with school districts, principals, teachers, and their students as partners to better design asset-based learning tools for number, rational number, and multiplicative reasoning.

  • Model Mathematics Education (ModelME): This four-year project funded though the ITEST competition from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will develop a game that will test an integrated curriculum for students with learning disabilities and difficulties in fourth through sixth grade, with the goal of increasing understanding of and engagement in fraction concepts. The game, which will be piloted with 140 students in North Carolina and Florida, will allow students to virtually step into one of five different STEM or information and communication technology (ICT) career roles. As they play, students will encounter opportunities to solve universally-designed fraction problems embedded in real-world occupations, such as nursing or civil engineering. The system will utilize executive function scaffolds and cognitive tutoring to support students’ unique abilities as they play.  Find the game and curriculum here!
  • Conference: Conversations Across Boundaries- Bringing PreK-2 Mathematics Experts Together: Leaders in mathematics and elementary education are organizing and hosting a conference that brings together researchers from mathematics education, cognitive science, and special education. The work is grounded in a common goal via constructive conversations and is purposefully framed to bring forth areas of agreement and disagreement when it comes to early mathematics teaching and learning. Organized over three face-to-face meetings with follow-up virtual meetings, the conference is designed to generate a set of teaching and learning principles as well as a collaborative research agenda among the fields, reflecting existing agreements regarding early mathematics and uncovering areas of disagreement where further exchange and generation of knowledge is needed.  The conference will foster opportunities for new insights and collaborations across fields, and new avenues for research and practice. Expected outcomes include: (a) Collaborative research proposals, discussion groups, symposia, and working groups at professional conferences across the different fields, (b) A virtual event to enable all researchers who are interested in learning more about the products of the work, (c) Preparation of a Research Coordination Network proposal to expand and continue collaborative research, and (d) A project website that will share all products created from the conference that is hosted and maintained by NC State University.
  • Network for In Vivo Research (NIER): Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure IncubatorHunt (NC State PI) and Rutherford (University of Delaware PI) are working with Gooru Navigator (PI), a non-profit organization that operates as a “GPS for Learning”, to develop tools and dashboards to give vetted researchers the ability to validate and scale the impact of their work with millions of learners. Our work will offer three key capabilities. First, researchers can configure their innovations (content, tools, or algorithms) to operate in Gooru Navigator. Second, researchers will be able to identify and obtain consent for the use of anonymized data from existing Navigator users or their own cohorts on Gooru Navigator. They can then access data schema and longitudinal datasets from these cohorts to efficiently validate their research. Third, the NIER portal will allow researchers to request that their validated innovations be integrated into Gooru Navigator’s technology for scaled impact, to share their research with the full community.

Past Projects:

  • At-Home Learning Initiative: The At-Home Learning Initiative helped promote remote learning access across the state, specifically for students who lack access to a stable internet connection. With funds from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) through the CARES Act, the Friday Institute facilitated the creation and implementation of 192 literacy and math lessons for PreK-5 students as part of the remote education initiative. 144 of those lessons for PreK-3 aired on PBS North Carolina (PBS NC). Reaching over 30 million households statewide on free public television, the program addressed opportunity gaps due to access to quality early learning instruction. All 192 recorded lessons are available on YouTube for free with accompanying lesson plans and extension activities accessible on GoOpenNC.
  • Professional Learning Online Modules (PLOM): This two-year project was funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and facilitated the development and study of two new professional online learning modules, including “Teaching Math to Young Children”, which infused evidence-based principles and instructional materials in an online  professional learning experience for teachers and parents.
  • Fraction Activities and Assessment for Conceptual Teaching (FAACT): This five-year CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) documented learning trajectories in fractional reasoning for students with learning disabilities. It also developed and tested a curriculum to be utilized in intervention settings to bolster concepts of fractions in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade.  Find the free curriculum here!


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Math Intervention with Jessica Hunt


Courses Taught

  • ECI 709  Curriculum Histories & Equity in Elementary Mathematics and Science Education (starting Spring 2024)
  • ECI 682 Specific Numeracy Techniques for Students with Mild Disabilities
  • ECI 585 Education of Children with Exceptionalities
  • EMS 770 Foundations of Mathematics Education


Post-doctoral Studies The University of Texas at Austin 2012

Ph.D. Special Education/Mathematics Education University of Central Florida 2011

  • 2022 Serious Play Conference: Gold Award, Game and Instructional Design, Educational Gaming
  • 2018 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: Linking Research and Practice Award
  • 2014 National Science Foundation CAREER Award: Fraction Activities and Assessments for Conceptual Teaching