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Kara Jackson

Assistant Professor


Office: Education Room 317
(514) 398-2460
kara [dot] jackson [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email)

Areas of Interest:

  • Mathematics education
  • Learning in and across contexts
  • Anthropology of education

Research and teaching activities

The goal of my current research is to contribute theoretical and practical knowledge about how to support historically disadvantaged groups of students to participate substantially in academically rigorous mathematics. At present, I am focusing on answering two related questions.

First, how can mathematics instruction be organized to support all students’, particularly disadvantaged groups of students’, substantial participation in rigorous mathematics? In this line of work, I seek to elaborate forms of equitable instructional practices that are potentially learnable by teachers in the context of high-quality professional development. An example includes research I have been involved in with colleagues to detail how complex tasks can be introduced in middle-grades classrooms to provide access to all students without lowering the cognitive demand of the task (Jackson et al., 2011).

It is doubtful, however, that identifying forms of instructional practice will provide adequate guidance for districts, schools, and teachers attempting to implement ambitious mathematics reforms. Therefore, the second research question asks how schools and districts with diverse institutional structures, resources, and constraints can support mathematics teachers' development of forms of ambitious instructional practices.

I am investigating these questions in the context of a collaboration between mathematics education and leadership and policy researchers at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN and four urban school districts in the USA. For more information on the project, please see the following website.

I welcome interested students to contact me if you are interested in working on similar issues and/or getting involved in the research described above.

Selected papers/publications

Cobb, P., & Jackson, K. (2012). Analyzing educational policies: A learning design perspective. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21(4), 487-521.

Jackson, K., Shahan, E., Gibbons, L., & Cobb, P. (2012). Launching complex tasks. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 18(1), 24-29.

Jackson, K., & Wilson, J. (2012). Supporting African American students’ learning of mathematics: A problem of practice. Urban Education, 47(2), 354-398.

Wortham, S., & Jackson, K. (2012).  Relational education: Applying Gergen’s work to educational research and practice. Psychological Studies, 57(2), 164-171.

Cobb, P., & Jackson, K. (2011). Assessing the quality of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Educational Researcher, 40(4), 183-185.

Cobb, P., & Jackson, K. (2011). Towards an empirically grounded theory of action for improving the quality of mathematics teaching at scale. Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, 13(1), 6-33.

Jackson, K. (2011). Approaching participation in school-based mathematics as a cross-setting phenomenon. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(1), 111-150.

Jackson, K. (2009). The social construction of youth and mathematics: The case of a fifth grade classroom. In D.B. Martin (Ed.), Mathematics teaching, learning, and liberation in the lives of Black children (pp. 175-199). New York: Routledge.

Cobb, P. & Jackson, K. (2008).  The consequences of experimentalism in formulating recommendations for policy and practice in mathematics education.  Educational Researcher, 37(9), 573-581.   

Wortham, S. & Jackson, K. (2008).  Educational constructionisms. In J. A. Holstein & J. F. Gubrium (Eds.), Handbook of constructionist research (pp. 107-127). New York: The Guilford Press.                                

Remillard, J.T. & Jackson, K.  (2006). Old math, new math:  Parents’ experiences with Standards-based reform. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 8(3), 231-259.

Selected Presentations

Jackson, K. (2012, June). Specifying equity in practice: Setting up complex tasks. National Science Foundation DR-K12 Principal Investigator Conference, Washington, D.C.

Jackson, K. (2011, November).  In response to NCLB: The emergence of “bubble kids.”  Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Montréal, QC, Canada.

Cobb, P., & Jackson, K. (2012, March). Towards an empirically grounded theory of action for improving the quality of teaching at scale.  National Association for Research in Science Teaching Plenary Address, Indianapolis, IN.

Jackson, K. (2012, February).  Supportive infrastructure for STEM learning: Designing learning organizations for instructional improvement in mathematics.  STEM Smart: Lessons Learned from Successful Schools (hosted by the National Science Foundation), Seattle, WA.

Cobb, P., & Jackson, K. (2011, April). Towards an empirically grounded theory of action for improving the quality of mathematics teaching at scale.  National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Research Presession Plenary Address, Indianapolis, IN.

Jackson, K., Garrison, A., Wilson, J., Gibbons, L., & Shahan, E. (2011, April).  Investigating how setting up cognitively demanding tasks is related to opportunities to learn in middle-grades mathematics classrooms. Paper presented at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Research Presession, Indianapolis, IN.

Jackson, K., & Cobb, P. (2010, April).  Refining a vision of high quality mathematics instruction to address issues of equity.  National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Research Pre-Session, San Diego, CA & Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO.

Jackson, K., & Cobb, P. (2009, November).  Supporting all students’ participation in academically rigorous mathematics. The Center for Research in Education, Learning, and Didactics, Rennes, France.

Cobb, P., & Jackson, K. (2009, November).  Reconceptualizing policies as designs for supporting learning. The Center for Research in Education, Learning, and Didactics, Rennes, France.

Jackson, K.  (2008, October).  Learning mathematics within and across home and school contexts.  Science and Math Education Colloquium Series, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL.

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