Kari Kokka
Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education
Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading

Dr. Kari Kokka (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leading. She studies student and teacher perspectives of Social Justice Mathematics and mathematics teacher activism. She has been an educator for over 20 years and an educator-organizer engaged in Social Justice Mathematics work for over 15 years. Prior to her doctoral studies, she was a mathematics teacher-organizer and instructional coach at Vanguard High School, a Title I public high school in New York City where she used Complex Instruction, Project Based Learning, and Performance Assessment (2001-2011). She began her teaching career in 1999 as a mathematics teacher and diving coach at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, CA. She has also worked as a Mathematics Performance Assessment Development and Research Associate at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity where she engaged in research to support teachers' implementation of Performance Assessment and Project Based Learning (2013-2016). Her current research is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and Spencer Foundation.

Dr. Kokka is co-founder of the Creating Balance in an Unjust World Conference on STEAMM Education and Social Justice (founded in 2007), former co-chair of the Critical Educators for Social Justice SIG (2017-2019), and has been part of the Radical STEMM Educators of the Bay Area, People’s Education Movement, and the New York Collective of Radical Educators. She has been featured on the Abolition Science podcast “Social Justice Mathematics and Teacher Activism,” Leading Equity podcast “Creating Student Activists Through Social Justice Mathematics,” and TODOS Mathematics for all podcast with her Ph.D. student Bri Rodriguez “Mentoring Relationships.” In 2021 she received the Dean's Distinguished Teaching Award in the School of Education, and in 2019 she was the faculty award recipient of the Iris Marion Young Award for Social Justice by the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs of the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Kokka completed her Ed.D. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (2017), principal certification (NYS Building Leader) with the New York City Leadership Academy (2011), her M.A. with the Stanford Teacher Education Program (2001), and her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University (1999). She is a proud product of East San Jose, California, K-12 public schools.

You can learn more about her work at www.karikokka.com.

Instructional Interests

  • IL 3476 Assessment and Evaluation in Mathematics and Science Education
  • IL 2470 Reasoning and Proving in Secondary Mathematics
  • IL 2474 Proportional Reasoning in Middle School Mathematics
  • IL 2476 Teaching and Learning in Secondary Mathematics 1
  • IL 2477 Teaching and Learning in Secondary Mathematics 2
  • IL 2478 Teaching and Learning in Secondary Mathematics 3
  • IL 1067/3067 Freedom Seminar: Emotions and Healing in Justice-Oriented Education

Scholarly Interests

  • Mathematics Education
  • Social Justice Mathematics
  • Equity
  • Teacher Activism

Selected Grants

  • Principal Investigator. (2021-2026). CAREER: Partnering with Teachers and Students to Engage in Mathematical Inquiry about Relevant Social Issues. National Science Foundation ($996,000).

  • Co-Principal Investigator (2020-2023). Political Conocimiento in Teaching Mathematics: Preparing Teachers to Advocate for Students. With Rochelle Gutierrez, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (PI), Marrielle Meyers, Kennesaw State University (Co-PI). Spencer Foundation ($500,000).

  • Co-Principal Investigator (2019-2022). Student Engagement in Mathematics: A Longitudinal Study of Classroom and Psychosocial Processes. With Ming-Te Wang (PI), Xu Qin (Co-PI), and Jennifer Fredricks (Co-I). National Science Foundation ($1.5 million).

Featured Publications

Awards and Honors

  • Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award. School of Education. University of Pittsburgh. (2021).

  • Iris Marion Young Award for Social Justice. Faculty Award. Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. University of Pittsburgh (2019).

  • Service, Teaching, and Research (STaR) Fellowship. Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (2018).

Engagement, Partnerships, and Professional Service

  • Editorial Board Member. Educational Researcher, American Education Research Association.

  • Founder and Organizer. Freedom and Justice Gathering (formerly called the Social Justice Curriculum Fair) and Black Lives Matter in Schools Week events. University of Pittsburgh.

  • Co-founder and Organizer. Creating Balance in an Unjust World Conference on STEAMM Education and Social Justice.