Sarah Nix




About Me: I am a 4th year PhD student in EMST. Prior to coming to Cal, I spent two years teaching 9th and 11th grade Algebra 1 and 2 at an urban public school in Philadelphia, while simultaneously pursuing my Master's in Urban Education at the University of Pennsylvania. A California native, I earned my Bachelor's degree in Theatre and Communication from the University of Southern California.

Research Interests: Currently, I'm interested in middle school Algebra teachers' pedagogical strategies and their potential to influence students' beliefs about themselves as doers of mathematics, student engagement, and subsequent deep student understanding of mathematics, particularly for students previously identified as low-achieving. Specifically, I’m interested in studying the ways teachers can teach for a growth mindset by providing opportunities for students feel capable of engaging in challenging mathematics because they can increase their intelligence by working hard. My studies aim to examine whether teaching for a growth mindset can afford opportunities that support previously low-achieving students in the context of a traditional Algebra course.

I am also interested in issues of policy and practice of remediation for secondary mathematics students in low-income previously underachieving urban classrooms. Specifically what strategies might be useful for mathematics teachers to raise the achievement of high school students who have a history of low achievement, while still maintaining rigor and problem solving in their classrooms? Finally, I am interested in how students’ beliefs about themselves as doers of mathematics and about the nature of mathematics influence their ability to solve non-routine problems. In addition to my own work, I am involved in Alan Schoenfeld's Algebra Teaching Study and Randi Engle's Tutoring Transfer of Learning Study.

Presentations and Publications:

Nix, S. (2012). “Tiger-up!” Affecting low-achieving urban students' beliefs to support persistence.Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Philadelphia, PA, April 2012.

Engle, R. A., Lam, D. P., Meyer, X. S., Nix, S. E. (2012).How does expansive framing promote transfer? Several proposed explanations and a research agenda for investigating them. Educational Psychologist 47(3) pp. 215-231.

Nix, S. (2011). When students with resources fail: How beliefs relate to problem solving. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Indianapolis, IN, April 2011.

Wernet, J., Lepak, J., Seashore, K., Nix, S., Champney, D., Floden, R., Kim, H., Louie, N., Reinholz, D., Schoenfeld, A., Shah, N. (2011).Algebraically rich tasks: Linking instruction and student understanding. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Indianapolis, IN, April 2011.

Nix, S., Seashore, K., Lepak, J., & Reinholz, D. L. (2011). Tracing pedagogical moves in algebra through student solution strategies. Symposium presented at AMTE 2011, Irvine, CA.