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Karen Koellner

Associate Professor of Childhood Education

Karen Koellner
913 West

Karen Koellner completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California and started her career as a middle school mathematics teacher. During her early teaching career she was a participant in two research studies. The first was focused on cooperative learning strategies to meet the needs of diverse learners and the second focused on piloting NSF-funded middle school reform curricula. These experiences as a participant in research studies, as well as conducting professional development for her school district, sparked her interest in pursuing a doctoral degree in mathematics education. Professor Koellner received her PhD in Mathematics Education from Arizona State University in 1998. She was a professor at both Georgia State University (1998-2003) and the University of Colorado Denver (2004-2010). She is currently the Director of Childhood Education at Hunter College and teaches courses in mathematics education.


Professor Koellner teaches courses in mathematics education.


Professor Koellner’s research is focused on the professional education of urban K-12 teachers of mathematics (pre service and inservice) and teacher leaders/facilitators of professional development. In particular, she is interested in how teachers learn mathematical knowledge for teaching, how teachers learn instructional strategies to reach all learners, and how this knowledge is applied in classrooms.

Current Research

Professor Koellner is a Co-PI on an NSF DRK-12 grant, “Toward a Scalable Model of Mathematics Professional Development: A Field Study of Preparing Facilitators to Implement the Problem-Solving Cycle.”  This project studies the scalability and sustainability of a model of mathematics professional development that she helped to created called the Problem Solving Cycle (PSC). This project is preparing instructional leaders to implement the PSC in all middle schools in one large urban district.  We are examining the implementation of the PSC Model facilitated by these instructional leaders. Additionally, we are studying how the mathematics we do with teachers translates to their classroom practice.

A secondary focus of the project is studying teacher learning aimed at supporting English language learners (ELLs) in their classrooms. This secondary focus contributes to greater understanding of supporting teacher learning in urban contexts. We are examining teacher conversations in professional development meetings, how teachers plan to support ELLs, and how these ideas affected their actual classroom practice.

We are in the third year of this project and will continue to analyze data related to facilitator growth in supporting teachers’ learning mathematical knowledge for teaching and instructional strategies to reach all learners. We continue to study the impact of the facilitators’ work on teachers’ classroom practice.


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