Jo Boaler

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Jo Boaler
Born (1964-02-18) 18 February 1964 (age 60)
England, United Kingdom
Alma materLiverpool University
King's College London
Scientific career
FieldsMathematics education
InstitutionsStanford University
Doctoral advisorPaul Black
Mike Askew

Jo Boaler (born 18 February 1964)[1] is a British education author and Nomellini-Olivier Professor of Mathematics Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education.[2] Boaler is involved in promoting reform mathematics and equitable mathematics classrooms.[3][4] She is the co-founder and faculty director of youcubed[5] a Stanford centre that offers mathematics education resources to teachers, students and parents. She is the author, co-author or editor of eighteen mathematics books,[6] including Limitless Mind (2019), Mathematical Mindsets (2016), The Elephant in the Classroom (2010)[7] and What's Math Got To Do With It? (2009).[8]

Education and training

Boaler received a Bachelors in Psychology from Liverpool University in 1985.[9][2] Boaler then began her career as a secondary mathematics teacher in urban London secondary schools, including Haverstock School, Camden.[2] After her early career in secondary mathematics education, Boaler received a master's degree in Mathematics Education from King's College London with distinction in 1991. She completed her PhD in mathematics education at the same university and won the award for best PhD in education from the British Educational Research Association in 1997.[10]

Academic career

Early career

During the early part of Boaler's career, she conducted longitudinal studies of students learning mathematics through different approaches. Her first three-year study in England was published as "Experiencing School Mathematics: Teaching Styles, Sex, and Setting."[11]

In 1998, Boaler became an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University in the Graduate School of Education.[2] She became an associate professor in 2000 and left as a full professor in 2006.[2] From 2000 to 2004, Boaler served as the president of the International Organization of Women and Mathematics Education.[12]

In 2000, she was awarded a presidential Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).[13] [14] An NSF funded study by Boaler would come to be known as the Railside study. This was a longitudinal study across three schools in northern California. The goal of the study was to compare the impact of traditional math curriculum with the reform curriculum. Findings were released in preliminary form in 2005 and published in 2008. The findings were promising and were used to support further reform efforts.[15]

Stanford mathematician R. James Milgram, CSULA professor Wayne Bishop, and statistician Paul Clopton investigated Boaler's claims and wrote an essay stating that her claims were exaggerated, but did not publish the essay in a peer reviewed journal.[16][17] In 2006, Milgram accused Boaler of research misconduct. Stanford's investigation concluded by acknowledging ongoing debates in mathematics education and absolving Boaler of scientific misconduct stating that "Dr. Boaler's responses to the questions put to her related to her report were thorough, thoughtful, and offered her scientific rationale for each of the questions underlying the allegations. We found no evidence of scientific misconduct or fraudulent behavior related to the content of the report in question. In short, we find that the allegations (such as they are) of scientific misconduct do not have substance".[18][15]

Return to England

In 2006 Boaler left Stanford for the UK. She was awarded a posting as the Marie Curie professor at Sussex University by the Marie Curie Foundation.[19] While in England, Boaler authored two books, What's Math Got To Do With It? and The Elephant in the Classroom.[20][21]

Return to California

In 2010, Boaler returned to Stanford and resumed her position as Professor of Mathematics Education.[2] In 2013, Boaler taught the first Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on mathematics education, called "How to Learn Math".[22][23] Its purpose was to educate teachers and parents about a new way of teaching math to help students overcome their fear of math while improving their academic performance.[24] Over 40,000 teachers and parents participated, with about 25,000 completing the full 2-to-16-hour course.[25] At the end of the course, 95% of survey respondents indicated that they would modify their ways of teaching math.[22][26] Boaler also consulted with other Silicon Valley digital educational institutions, such as Novo-ed,[27] Inner Tube Games,[28] and Udacity.[29]

At Stanford, she teaches workshops on teaching for a growth mindset,[30] drawing upon the work of Carol Dweck, the author and developer of the theory of growth mindset.[31] In addition to focusing on inquiry-based learning,[18] Boaler's research has highlighted the problems associated with ability grouping in England and the US.[32][33][34] In 2012, Boaler published articles on the links between timed testing and math anxiety.[35] Boaler had conducted research on mathematics, mistakes, and growth mindset[36] with Stanford University professors Carol Dweck[37] and Greg Walton.[38]

In 2012 Boaler published an article on her Stanford homepage, accusing Milgram, Bishop (and others) of harassment, persecution, and suppression.[39] Bishop and Milgram each issued rebuttals.[40][41]

In 2013, Boaler founded with Cathy Williams, former director of Mathematics in the Vista Unified School District.[42] The mission of the site is to offer inspirational mathematics resources for mathematics teachers.[43]

In 2014, the San Francisco Unified School District updated its math program, including removal of algebra from their public middle schools. The effort removed honors classes and accelerated math, placing all students into the same curriculum based on grade.[44] The replacement curriculum was heavily based on Boaler's work, and had groups of students work through a series of math tasks.[44] In an Op-Ed signed by Boaler and several colleagues, the group praised the effort, claiming the repeat rate for 9th grade algebra dropped from 40% to 8%. However, the school district later clarified that those numbers were not related to curriculum changes, but rather it was a "one-time major drop" that occurred when placement tests were removed.[45][15]

As Common Core was being launched in 2015, Boaler pointed out that fluency is often taken to mean memorization and speed.[46] This ignited a controversy in England, prompting Charlie Stripp, director of England's National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics to respond in an op-ed.[47][48]

Boaler is one of five writers of the California Department of Education's controversial 2021 Mathematics Framework, approved in July 2023 by the state board of education.[49][50][51][15][52] The Framework is heavily based on Boaler's work, with the second draft citing either her work, or the work of Youcubed over 40 times.[15]

In March of 2024 an anonymous complaint was sent to Stanford's dean of research alleging Boaler had violated the research policies of the university.[53] Boaler's work on the 2023 revision of the California Math Curriculum Framework was alleged to contain numerous misrepresentations and inaccuracies. In response, Boaler said that the accusations demonstrated "a lack of understanding of educational research protocols and processes."[54]

Awards and honors

  • 2000 – 2004 President: International Organisation of Women and Mathematics Education (IOWME)[12]
  • 2004 Fellow: Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences[55]
  • 2007 Chair of Excellence: The Marie Curie Foundation[56]
  • 2010 Invited Lecture at The Royal Society[57]
  • 2014 NCSM (National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics) Kay Gilliland Equity Award[58]
  • 2016 The California Mathematics Council Walter Denham Memorial Award for Leadership[59]
  • 2019 The Nomellini-Olivier Endowed Chair[60][61]


  1. ^ Birth year from Library of Congress authority control file. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Faculty profile for Jo Boaler". Stanford University. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  3. ^ Boaler, J. (2002). Paying the Price for "Sugar and Spice": Shifting the Analytical Lens in Equity Research. Mathematical Thinking and Learning. 4(2&3),127–144.
  4. ^ Stanford, Peter (20 October 2012). "Make Britain Count: 'Stop telling children maths isn't for them'". The Telegraph.
  5. ^ "Our Team". youcubed. Stanford Graduate School of Education.
  6. ^ "Math Therapy Embracing your limitless mind w/ Jo Boaler". 20 July 2023.
  7. ^ Boaler, J. (2010). The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn & Love Maths. Souvenir Press: London
  8. ^ Boaler, J (2009). What's Math Got To Do With It? How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject. Penguin: New York.
  9. ^ "Three Stanford education professors appointed to endowed chairs". Stanford University. Stanford University. 20 June 2019. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  10. ^ "Jo Boaler". Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Stanford Graduate School of Education. 8 October 2012. Archived from the original on 11 December 2015.
  11. ^ Boaler, Jo (1997). Experiencing school mathematics: Teaching styles, sex, and setting. ISBN 978-0335199624.
  12. ^ a b "The International Organization of Women and Mathematics Education". International Mathematical Union. Archived from the original on 9 March 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Honorary Awards". NSF. Archived from the original on 15 December 2021.
  14. ^ Doles, Kyna (17 July 2012). "What is Project-Based Learning?". PBS. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015.
  15. ^ a b c d e Lee, Stephanie (22 March 2023). "The Divider". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  16. ^ Boaler, Jo; Staples, Megan (2008). "Creating Mathematical Futures through an Equitable Teaching Approach: The Case of Railside School" (PDF). Teachers' College Record. 110 (3): 608–645. doi:10.1177/016146810811000302. S2CID 145439516. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  17. ^ Bishop, Wayne; Clopton, Paul; Milgram, James. "A Close Examination of Jo Boaler's Railside Report" (PDF). Nonpartisan Education Review. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  18. ^ a b Jaschik, Scott (15 October 2012). "Casualty of the math wars". Inside Higher Ed. Archived from the original on 20 December 2023.
  19. ^ Boaler, Jo. "Profile Page". University of Sussex. University of Sussex. Archived from the original on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2021.
  20. ^ Boaler, Jo (17 July 2008). What's Math Got To Do With It? How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject. Viking. ISBN 9780670019526.
  21. ^ Boaler, Jo (1 February 2010). The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths. Souvenir Press. ISBN 978-0285638754.
  22. ^ a b Boaler, Jo (12 November 2013). "The Stereotypes That Distort How Americans Teach and Learn Math". The Atlantic.
  23. ^ Johnston, Theresa (20 May 2014). "Math in action: New online courses offer fresh approach to subject". Graduate School of Education News. Stanford.
  24. ^ Rabinovitz, Jonathan (1 July 2013). "Stanford Experiments With Digital Course Designed To Help Students Overcome Fear of Math". wiredacademic. Archived from the original on 22 June 2014.
  25. ^ Stanford, Peter (2 November 2013). "University education: maturing of the Mooc?". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 19 January 2023.
  26. ^ "How to Learn Math". Stanford Lagunita. Archived from the original on 6 June 2019.
  27. ^ "NovoEd: Leading Online Learning Platform for Comprehensive Training". Archived from the original on 3 February 2024.
  28. ^ "Advisors". InnerTube Games. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  29. ^ "Udacity – Free Online Classes & Nanodegrees | Udacity". Archived from the original on 4 February 2024.
  30. ^ "Boaler Flyer" (PDF). NCPDF. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  31. ^ Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset, the new psychology of success. Random House.
  32. ^ Boaler, Jo (2013). "Ability and Mathematics: the mindset revolution that is reshaping education". Forum. 55 (1): 143–152. doi:10.2304/forum.2013.55.1.143. ISSN 0963-8253. S2CID 147018963.
  33. ^ Benn, Melissa (8 August 2011). "Streaming primary school pupils labels them for life". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2019. Academic Jo Boaler followed two groups of young adolescents in the mid-90s, one separated into rigid ability groups, the other taught in mixed-ability groupings. Not only did the mixed-ability students outperform those who had been put into separate groups in national examinations, but when Boaler tracked down a representative sample from both schools, she found the mixed-ability group had achieved more social mobility, in relation to their parents, than their streamed peers.
  34. ^ Boaler, Jo (10 February 2005). "Jo Boaler: Setting by ability does not work". The Independent. Archived from the original on 9 June 2022. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  35. ^ Boaler, Jo (3 July 2012). "Timed Tests and the Development of Math Anxiety". Education Week. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  36. ^ Rushowy, Kristin (9 December 2013). "Tips to make math more enjoyable for young learners". The Star. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  37. ^ "Stanford Login". Archived from the original on 10 April 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  38. ^ "Gregory Walton | Department of Psychology". Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  39. ^ Boaler, Jo (October 2012). "When Academic Disagreement Becomes Harassment and Persecution".
  40. ^ Bishop, Wayne; Milgram, R. James. "A Response to Some of the Points of: When Academic Disagreement Becomes Harassment and Persecution". Archived from the original on 24 March 2017.
  41. ^ Milgram, R. James. "Private Data – The Real Story: A Huge Problem with Education Research" (PDF).
  42. ^ "Our Team". youcubed. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  43. ^ "Our Mission". youcubed. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  44. ^ a b Sawchuk, Stephen (12 June 2018). "A Bold Effort to End Algebra Tracking Shows Promise". Education Week. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  45. ^ Boaler; Schoenfeld; Daro; Asturias; Callahan; Foster. "OPINION: How one city got math right". No. 8 October 2018. The Hechinger Report. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  46. ^ Scott, Sam (27 April 2018). "Jo Boaler Wants Everyone to Love Math". Stanford Magazine. Stanford University. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  47. ^ Barshay, Jill (9 February 2015). "Should We Stop Making Kids Memorize Times Tables?". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  48. ^ Stripp, Charlie (22 September 2015). "'It is wrong to tell children that they do not need to memorise their times tables'". Tes. Archived from the original on 11 June 2021. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  49. ^ Blume, Howard; Watanabe, Teresa (13 July 2023). "California approves math overhaul to help struggling students. But will it hurt whiz kids?". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 17 January 2024.
  50. ^ Fensterwald, John (29 July 2022). "Deep divisions, further delay for California's math guidelines". Palo Alto Online. Archived from the original on 2 January 2024. Brian Lindaman, faculty co-director of the Center for Science and Mathematics Instruction at California State University, Chico, chaired the five-person committee that drafted the framework
  51. ^ Miolene, Elissa (28 July 2023). "California has adopted a new plan to teach math. Why are people so riled up?". Mercury News. Archived from the original on 2 January 2024. But Jo Boaler, a Stanford math education professor and one of the writers of the state guidelines
  52. ^ Aleksey, Allyson (19 December 2022). "SFUSD is controversial case study for statewide proposed math guidelines". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  53. ^ Lee, Stephanie (20 March 2024). "Stanford Math-Education Expert Has 'Reckless Disregard for Accuracy,' Complaint Alleges". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2 April 2024.
  54. ^ Grossman, Hannah; Lencki, Maria (1 April 2024). "Stanford professor defends herself after being accused of 'reckless disregard for accuracy'". Fox News. Retrieved 2 April 2024.
  55. ^ "Welcome | Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (CASBS)". Archived from the original on 29 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  56. ^ "Marie Curie Actions - Promoting Excellence". Research & Innovation - European Commission. 20 January 2006. Archived from the original on 25 December 2013.
  57. ^ [1] Archived 30 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  58. ^ "NCSM". NCSM. 5 July 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2022.
  59. ^ Muller, Gretchen. "Walter Denham Memorial Award". Home. Retrieved 4 December 2022.
  60. ^ "Carnegie Announces the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Chair". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 23 May 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2022.
  61. ^ "Three Stanford education professors appointed to endowed chairs". Stanford Graduate School of Education. 20 June 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2022.

External links