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Frances Harper, PhD

Assistant Professor, STEM Education/Math


Frances K. Harper is an Assistant Professor in STEM Education at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education. Her research broadly focuses on issues of equity and social justice in mathematics education and mathematics teacher education. First and foremost, she strives to understand K-12 students’ experiences with equity-minded mathematics teaching. Equity-minded mathematics teaching is the pedagogical effort to foster mathematical sense making, productive participation and collaboration, and a positive relationship with mathematics for every student. In particular, her work focuses on how complex instruction, a particular equity-minded approach to collaborative learning, and teaching mathematics for social justice, the integration of mathematics and social justice goals, support girls and students of color to see themselves and to be seen as confident and capable learners and doers of mathematics.

Harper’s research within mathematics teacher education explores how K-12 teachers and prospective teachers can learn to leverage or adapt existing mathematics curricular materials to achieve equity-minded goals in their mathematics instruction. For several years, Harper has designed and facilitated professional development for K-12 mathematics teachers in urban classrooms, and she has developed and led courses for prospective secondary mathematics teachers with an emphasis on urban education. More recently, she has shifted her focus to working with prospective and practicing PK-5 teachers and has begun investigating the unique characteristics of and equity concerns for mathematics teaching and learning in rural schools.


Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information

  • 446 Claxton Education Complex, 1122 Volunteer Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37996
  • Phone: 865-974-4040
  • E-mail: