# Rebecca Ambrose

Professor

After teaching middle school math for ten years, I decided to pursue a PhD to get a fresh perspective on the issues I observed every day in my classroom and thought that maybe I could help develop remedies that would help other teachers, as well.

Rebecca Ambrose researches how children solve mathematics problems and works with teachers to apply what she has learned about the informal strategies children employ to differentiate and improve instruction in math. She credits her approach to a method called Cognitively Guided Instruction, founded by Thomas Carpenter and Elizabeth Fenneman in the 1980s at the University of Wisconsin.

### Scholarly Foci

*Children’s Mathematical Thinking* – Examining the
mathematical conversations teachers have with their students.
Exploring how young children’s mathematical thinking develops in
geometry and algebra and how it is affected by language issues.

*Equity Issues in Mathematics Educatio*n – Considering
ways in which mathematics instruction empowers or disadvantages
children by working with teachers in high-poverty schools with
large numbers of English Language Learners. Documenting the
mathematical power of economically disadvantaged students through
video taped interviews.

### Education

Ph.D. – University of Wisconsin, Madison – 1998

M.A. – University of Wisconsin, Madison – 1995

B.A. – Dartmouth College – 1982

### Teaching Positions and Ranks Held

**University of California, Davis – Mathematics
Education**

- Professor, 2015-present
- Director of Teacher Education, 2014-2018
- Associate Professor, 2007-2015
- Assistant Professor, 2002-2007

**San Diego State University – Mathematics
Education**

- Assistant Professor, 1999-2002

**University of Wisconsin, Madison**

- Instructor, 1997-1999

**Various Junior High Schools**

- Mathematics Teacher, 1983-1993

### Awards and Honors

- University of California, Davis Award for Excellence in Service to Graduate Students. 2015
- Markham Mathematics Collaborative, Improving Teacher Quality Grant from California Post-Secondary Education Commission, 1/04-6/06.
- Scholarship and Creativity Award. SDSU College of Education. 2000-2001.
- Scholarship and Creativity Award. SDSU College of Education. 1999-2000.

### Scholarship

*Select Refereed Publications*

Bjorklund, P., Daly, A., Ambrose, R. & van Es, E. A. (2020). Connections and Capacity: An Exploration of Preservice Teachers’ Sense of Belonging, Social Networks and Self-Efficacy in Three Teacher Education Programs. AERA Open, 6(1).

Banes, L., Bayley, R. & Ambrose, R. (2020). “Present Your Start”: Mathematics Discussions to Benefit All Students. Multilingual Educator, 2020.

Banes, L., Restani, R., Ambrose, R., Bayley, R.J., & Martin, H. (2019). Relating Performance on Written Assessments to Features of Mathematics Discussion. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 1 – 24.

Banes, L., Ambrose, R., Bayley, R.J., Restani, R. & Martin, H. (2018). Mathematical Classroom Discussion as an Equitable Practice: Effects on Elementary English Learners’ Performance. Journal of Language Identity and Education, 17(6), 416–433.

Soto, M., & Ambrose, R. (2016). Screencasts: Formative assessment for mathematical thinking. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 21(2), 277-283.

Soto, M. & Ambrose, R. (2016). Making students’ mathematical explanations accessible to teachers through the use of digital recorders and iPads. Learning, Media and Technology, 2 213–232.

Ambrose, R. & Burnison, E. (2015). Do twelfths terminate or repeat?. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School. 21(4), 230-237.

Jacobs, V., Martin, H., Ambrose, R. & Phillip, R. (2014). Warning Signs for Taking Over Children’s Thinking. Teaching Children Mathematics, 21, 2, 107-113.

Ambrose, R. & Molina, M. (2013). Spanish/English bilingual students´ comprehension of arithmetic story problem texts. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. DOI: 10.1007/s10763-013-9472-2

Ambrose, R., Soto, M. & Alexander, C. (2011). Does it still work?: CGI in a cotemporary CA high-poverty district. T. Lamberg & L. Wiest Eds. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno NV.

Ambrose, R. & Molina, M. (2010). First-grade Latino English Language Learners´ Performance on Story Problems in Spanish versus English. Canadian Journal for Science, Mathematics and Technology 10(4), 356–369.

Alexander, C. & Ambrose, R. (2010). Digesting Student-Authored Story Problems. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 16(1), 27–33.

Ambrose, R. & Kenehan, G. (2009). Children’s Evolving Understanding of

Polyhedra in the Classroom. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 11(3): 158-176.

Molina, M. & Ambrose, R. (2008). From an operational to a relational conception of the equal sign: Third graders’ developing algebraic thinking. Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics, 30 (1), 61–80.

Jacobs, V. & Ambrose, R. (2008). Making the most of word problems. Teaching Children Mathematics, 15(5), 260–266.

Philipp, R., Ambrose, R., Lamb, L., Sowder, J., Schappelle, B., Sowder, L. & Thanheiser, E. (2007). Effects of early field experiences on the mathematical content knowledge and beliefs of prospective elementary school teachers. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 38, 5, 438–476.

Molina, M. & Ambrose, R. (2006). Fostering relational thinking while negotiating the meaning of the equal sign. Teaching Children Mathematics, 13(2), 111–117.

Jacobs, V., Ambrose, R., Clement, L. & Brown, D. (2006). Using teacher-produced videotapes of student interviews as discussion catalysts. Teaching Children Mathematics, 12(6), 276–281.

Kenehan, G. & Ambrose, R. (2005). 3D Geometry in the 3rd Grade: Sorting and Describing Polyhedra. ON-Math: Online Journal of School Mathematics, Spring 2005, 3 (3). Can be accessed at: http://my.nctm.org/eresources/tocgraphic.asp?journal_id=6&issue_id=754 (access restricted to members of the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics.)

Ambrose, R. (2004). Initiating change in prospective elementary school teachers’ orientations to mathematics by building on beliefs. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 7, 91–119.

Ambrose, R. C., Clement, L. L., Philipp, R. A, & Chauvot, J. (2004). Assessing prospective elementary school teachers’ beliefs about mathematics and mathematics learning: Rationale and development of a constructed-response-format beliefs survey. School Science and Mathematics, 104(2), 56–69.

Ambrose, R. Baek, J.M., & Carpenter, T.P. (2003). Children’s invention of multiplication and division algorithms. In A. Baroody & Dowker (Eds.), The development of arithmetic concepts and skills: Constructing adaptive expertise. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 267-306.

Ambrose, R. (2002). Are we overemphasizing manipulatives in the primary grades to the detriment of girls? Teaching Children Mathematics, 9 (1) 16-21.

Ambrose, R. & Fennema , E. (2002). Gender and school learning: mathematics and science. In N.J. Smelser & P.B. Baltes (Eds.) International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences. New York: Pergamon, pp. 5972-5975.

Ambrose, R. & Falkner, K. (2002). Developing spatial reasoning through building polyhedrons. Teaching Children Mathematics, 8 (8) 442 – 447.

Ambrose, R., Levi, L., & Fennema, E. (1997). The complexity of teaching for gender equity. In J. Trentacosta & M.J. Kenney (Eds.) Multicultural and gender equity in the mathematics classroom: The gift of diversity. 1997 Yearbook. pp. 236–242. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

*Invited Chapters*

Molina, M., Ambrose, R. & del Rios, A. (2018). First Encounter with Variables by First and Third Grade Spanish Students. In Carolyn Kieran (Ed.), Teaching and Learning Algebraic Thinking with 5- to 12-year-olds: The Global Evolution of an Emerging Field of Research and Practice. ICME-13 Monographs, Springer.

Levi, L. & Ambrose, R. (2018). Cognitively Guided Instruction in Action – What it looks like when a teacher plans and implements instruction using a children’s thinking framework. Edward A. Silver & Valerie L. Mills, (Eds), A fresh look at formative assessment in mathematics teaching, pp 41 –60. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

*Limited Distribution Documents*

Koo, S., & Ambrose, R. (2020) “Is the Team All Right?.” The CCTE SPAN 2020 Research Monograph, 53-65.

Banes, L., Ambrose, R., Restani, R., Bayley, R.J. & Martin, H. (2017). Linguistically Modified Mathematics Assessment. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/317238876_Linguistically_Modified_Mathematics_Assessment

Orosco, J. & Ambrose, R. (2015). Using self-collected, self-selected, self-facilitated video to promote professional learning: Are teachers’ discussions productive? Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283266215_Using_self-collected_self-selected_self-facilitated_video_to_promote_professional_learning_Are_teachers%27_discussions_productive

*Externally Funded Research Grants*

Ambrose, R. (2010 – 2014). Strategic Alliance II. $525,249. A professional development and research program for K – 6. teachers in a high-poverty district focused on children’s strategy development. Funded by Improving Teacher Quality Program administered by California Post-Secondary Education Commission.

Ambrose, R. (2007 – 2011). Strategic Alliance of Robla/UC-Davis/Sacramento County Office of Education. $271,832. A professional development and research program for PK-2 teachers in a high-poverty district focused on children’s strategy development. Funded by Improving Teacher Quality Program administered by California Post-Secondary Education Commission.

Ambrose, R. (2004 – 2007). Markham Mathematics Collaborative, $173,160. A professional development program for K-6 teachers in a high-poverty school with a focus on children’s mathematical thinking. Funded by Improving Teacher Quality Program administered by California Post-Secondary Education Commission.

*Papers presented at Professional Refereed Conferences (Since
2010)*

Ambrose, R. (Nov, 2019). Inclusively responsive instruction to advance spatial reasoning and number sense. Paper presented at 41st Annual Meeting of PME-NA, Saint Louis, MO.

Betser, S. , Martin, L. & Ambrose, R. (June, 2019). “They don’t see girls”: Construction of identities in a maker program. Paper presented at the annual conference of the American Society for Engineering Education. Montreal, Canada.

Molina, M., Ambrose, R. & del Rio, A. (July, 2016). First encounter with letters in primary education. Paper presented at the 13th International Congress on Mathematical Education, Hamburg, Germany.

Ambrose, R., Banes, L., Restani, R. Bayley, R. & Martin, H. (2015, April). Relating performance of written assessments to features of mathematics discussion in high-poverty elementary classrooms. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Chicago, IL.

Soto, M. & Ambrose, R. (2015, April). Screencasts as a formative assessment tool for mathematical explanations. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.

Banes, L., Ambrose, Restani, R., Martin, H. & Bayley, R. (2015, April). Mathematical classroom discussion as an equitable practice: Effects on elementary English Language Learner’s performance. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.

Ambrose, R., Martin, H., Banes, L.& Restani, R. (2014, April). Orchestrating equitable and productive discussion: Elementary teachers’ implementation of mathematics professional development. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Orosco, J. & Ambrose, R. (2013, April). Using self-selected video in teacher professional development to encourage productive discussion. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.

Huang, A. & Ambrose, R. (2013, April). Developing multiplicative thinking: Rectangular arrays and task-solving in a computer environment. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.

Ambrose, R. et al. (2011, October). Using children’s mathematics thinking to promote teacher learning: A comparison of five projects. Discussion Group at the Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno NV.

Ambrose, R. & Molina, M. (2011, June). Simple language versus relevant situations: English language learners’ retelling of mathematics problems. Paper presented at the 41st annual meeting of the Jean Piaget Society, Berkeley, CA.

Jacobs, V., Ambrose, R., Philipp, R. & Martin, H. (2011, April). Exploring One-On-One Teacher-Student Conversations During Mathematical Problem Solving. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

Ambrose, R. & Molina, M. (2010, May). English-Language Learners’ problem solving in Spanish versus English. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO.

*Invited Addresses*

Ambrose, R. (June, 2019). Bending the Curve – Keynote – Teacher Panel. (Moderator). Cognitively Guided Instruction 10th Biennial Conference. Minneapolis, MN.

Ambrose, R. (June, 2017). Math in the moment. Opportunities to advance young children’s thinking during work and play. Early Start Math Symposium. Yolo County Office of Education.

Ambrose. R. (October, 2015). Building polyhedra: An example of inclusively responsive instruction. Mathematics Department, Universidad de Granada, Spain.

Ambrose, R. (June 2012). Leones Marinos y Otras Cosas: Bilingual Children’s Retelling of Mathematics Story Problems. Mathematics Department, Universidad de Granada, Spain.

Ambrose, R. (May, 2011). It’s more than Proof: Geometry Learning through Building, Talking and Drawing. Address for Mathematics and Computer Science Speaker Series at California State University-Stanislaus.

Ambrose, R. (2005, April). A Celebration of Students’ Inventions. Keynote Address for the Mathematics Educators of Solano County Mini-Conference and Teacher Exchange. Fairfield, CA.

*Regional and National Presentations – Since 2010*

Ambrose, R., Burnison, E. & Smith, H. (Dec 2019). CGI Informed Geometry Instruction: #s + Shapes = Thinking. California Mathematics Council – North 62nd Annual Conference. Monterey, CA.

Ambrose, R. & Burnison, E. (June, 2019). Geometric Thinking – Shapes + Numbers Equals Thinking. 10th Biennial Conference of Cognitively Guided Instruction. Minneapolis, MN.

Ambrose, R. & Loomis, C. (April, 2019). Slice it up – Discussing equal sharing strategies to learn fractions. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting. San Diego, CA.

Ambrose, R. & Burnison, E. (Dec. 2018). Slice it up – Discussing equal sharing strategies to learn fractions. California Mathematics Council – North 61st Annual Conference. Monterey, CA.

Ambrose, R. & Burnison, E. (June, 2017). Shaping up – Kids’ Thinking in Geometry. 9th Biennial Conference of Cognitively Guided Instruction. Seattle, WA.

Ambrose, R. & Le, C. (2015, June). Sharing artifacts to explore students’ thinking. Cognitively Guided Instruction National Conference, Lawndale, CA.

Brown, S., Ambrose, R., Orosco, J. & Coddington, L. (2014, Feb,). Understanding the role of local video in the context of professional development. Symposium at the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators Conference in Irvine, CA.

Restani, R., Ambrose, R., Martin, H. & Banes, L. (2013, November). Classroom discussion observation instrument. Poster presented at the Psychology of Mathematics Education- North American Chapter conference in Chicago, Illinois.

Banes, L., Ambrose, R., Martin, M., & Restani, R. (2013, November). Math talk in elementary classrooms: What features are common? Poster presented at the Psychology of Mathematics Education- North American Chapter conference in Chicago, Illinois.

Ambrose, R. (2013, July). Supporting bilingual children’s story problem comprehension. Seventh Biennial Cognitively Guided Instruction Conference, Des Moines, Iowa.

### Current Activities and Service

- Chair, School of Education Admissions and Fellowships Committee.

### Funded Research

Lead Investigator (1/1/2017 – 12/31/2021) California Teacher Education Research & Improvement Network CTERIN Multicampus Research Program and Initiative (MRPI) Grant from The Regents of the UC

Collaborator (2021 – 2025) “Pensamiento algebraico en educación infantil y educación primaria.” Proyectos de Generación del Conocimiento/Retos Investigación del Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades. Spain.

Consultant (2017). Peer Role Models to Inspire Women to Thrive in STEM. NSF funded project at San Diego State University.

Research Faculty (2012 – 2016). Innovation in STEM Teaching, Achievement and Research (ISTAR): A collaboration between 40 UC-Davis, Dixon Unified and Davis Unified faulty and administrators to identify learning practices in common in mathematics and science classrooms that promote students’ understanding. Bechtel funded, $1.6 million.

Consultant (2007). Studying Teachers’ Evolving Perspectives (STEP): A Cross-Sectional Snapshot of Teachers Engaged in Sustained Professional Development Focused on Children’s Mathematical Thinking, NSF funded project at San Diego State University.

Co-Researcher (2003-2007). Collaborative Classroom-Based Inquiry Project. GK-12 NSF funded project at University of California-Davis.

Research Faculty (1999–2003). Integrating Mathematics and Pedagogy (IMAP), NSF funded project at San Diego State University.

Unfunded Grant applications:

R. C. Ambrose Co-PI, Dr. Zhaodan Kong, PI and Dr. Barbara Linke, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of California, Davis Data-Driven Personalized Hands-On Engineering Education. Proposal to NSF IUSE: EHR Proposal, Engaged Student Learning: Exploration and Design.

### Select Publications

Ambrose, Rebecca and Alexander, Cathleen. (August 2010). “Digesting Student-Authored Story Problems.” Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 16, (1), 27-33.

### Design Collaborations

California Teaching Performance Assessment Design Team (April, 2016 – June 2018)

- Appointed by California Commission on teacher Credentialing to provide recommendations to support the redesign of the CalTPA. Team met monthly for 1 – 2 days to provide guidance to staff in designing the assessment tool which is used by many of the teacher education programs in the state.

### Dissertations Completed Under Ambrose Supervision

Mastrup, K. (2020). Storied Identities: Exploring the Beliefs, Values and Past Experiences of Preservice Mathematics Educators and Future-Oriented Practice. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Restani, R. (2018). Exploring Student Voice in a High School Classroom – Empowering Strategies for Marginalized Students. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Banes, L. (2017). “Explain Your Answer”: Mathematical Writing in Linguistically Diverse Classrooms. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Maloney, L. (2015). Teaching Community College Introductory Statistics Using Social Justice Contexts. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Orosco, J. (2014). Productive Discussions about Teachers’ Self-selected Instructional Videos. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA.

Soto, M. (2014). Documenting Students’ Mathematical Thinking Through Explanations and Screencasts. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA.

Huang, A. (2013). Developing Multiplicative Thinking with Rectangular Array Tasks in a Computer Environment. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA.

Alexander, C. (2013). Community college developmental education students’ understanding of foundational fraction concepts. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Muldrew, L. (2012). The meaning of adversity within traditional K–12 math classrooms in the United States from the perspective of African-American individuals. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. http://gradworks.umi.com/3555382.pdf

Ramirez-Faghih, C. (2012). Fostering Change in College Students’ Statistical Reasoning and Motivation through Statistical Investigation. Retrieved from International Association for Statistical Education. http://iase-web.org/Publications.php%3Fp=Dissertations

Martin, H. (2008). Elementary school teachers’ mathematics instructional decision making in the context of district mandates on instruction. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Kenehan, G. (2006). On Students’ Thinking about the Concept of Function While Using Technology in Context: A Design Experiment. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA.

### Service

*Consultancy*

- California Partnership for Math & Science Education (CAPSME) (2018-2020) file:///Users/fo0l/Downloads/CAPMSE-Aug19.pdf

*Reviewer*

- NSF Review Panel (Winter, 2020)
- Educational Researcher (2020)
- Infancia y Aprendizaje/ Journal for the Study of Education and Development (2019)
- International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education (2019)
- Journal of Mathematical Behavior (2020)
- Journal of Mathematical Thinking and Learning (2019 – present)
- Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education (2004 – present)
- Journal for Research in Mathematics Education (1998 - present).
- Journal of Teacher Education (2007)
- American Educational Research Journal (1999, 2015)
- Teaching Children Mathematics (1997 – 2005)

*External Reviewer for Tenure Cases*

- 2019 (Santa Clara University)
- 2017
- 2016
- 2015

## Sharing Innovation in Mathematics Teaching and Learning

November 2013

UC Davis School of Education Associate Professor Rebecca Ambrose will collaborate with three of her doctoral students to make presentations at the Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME) held November 14-17, 2013.

## Rebecca Ambrose

For Rebecca Ambrose, the key to teaching math to children lies in an understanding of how they solve problems before anyone has taught them.

“Kids use informal strategies and can figure things out in very interesting and sophisticated ways. What we observe about how they approach mathematical problem solving can inform the basis for teachers’ instruction,” said Ambrose.