Nicole Fonger

Nicole Fonger
Associate Professor, Mathematics Education
Phone: 315.443.1499
Address: 317F Carnegie
Academic Program Area Focus: Mathematics Education

 Nicole L. Fonger, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Mathematics Education at Syracuse University. Dr. Fonger is a community-engaged scholar, mathematics education researcher, visual artist, mathematics teacher educator, mathematics professor, and mother. Her research agenda is driven by a quest to address an enduring issue in mathematics education: how to support students’ meaningful learning of algebra in K-12 school settings. Dr. Fonger contributes to better understanding and addressing this issue through empirical and theoretical research, design studies, and community-engaged scholarship focused on advancing knowledge in the field of mathematics education. Dr. Fonger is the founder of the Antiracist Algebra Coalition, and the Co-Founder of the Data Warriors, an after-school club focused on math, mapping, and social justice. 


  •  Ph.D., Mathematics Education, Western Michigan University, 2012 Dissertation: "Characterizing and Supporting Change in Algebra Students' Representational Fluency in a CAS/Paper-and-Pencil Environment"
  • M.A., Mathematics, Western Michigan University, December 2009
  • M.A., Mathematics Education, Western Michigan University, April 2008
  • B.A., Mathematics, University of Saint Thomas, May 2006

Research & Scholarship

Research Focus:

Understanding and supporting students' meaningful learning of mathematics.

My research and practice are deeply intertwined with a focus on supporting students’ meaningful learning of algebra through collaborative partnerships with classroom teachers, and culturally responsive designs including social justice mathematics tasks. 

As a community-engaged researcher, I seek to build meaningful partnerships with school and community stakeholders with a focus on supporting students’ learning of algebra in urban public schools, classrooms, and informal learning spaces. I am a co-founder and organizer of the Data Warriors program, where we work with youth to understand and address injustices in our communities through math and mapping. Please reach out if you’re interested in collaborating.

The three main strands and related guiding questions of my scholarship are:

Meaningful Learning Strand: I study how students learn algebra and algebraic thinking in meaningful ways.

  • How does networking representational fluency and quantitative reasoning shed light on students’ meaningful learning of algebra?
  • How do English as a second language learners communicate their mathematical ideas through linguistic and visual resources or representations?

Teaching and Learning Trajectories Strand: I study how teachers support secondary students’ learning of algebra in school settings over time.

  • What is a learning trajectory for quadratic function? 
  • How do theoretically grounded instructional moves and task design support shifts in students’ ways of understanding and ways of thinking?
  • How might mindfulness mitigate math anxiety? 
  • What are ways teachers support students’ multidimensionality of experience and relations through heart-centered caring?

Linking Research, Practice, and Place Strand: I study how to link research and practice in urban public schools with a focus on anti-oppressive practices and policies for marginalized students.

  • How do practices and policies operate as gatekeepers to students’ opportunities to learn math in meaningful ways in urban public high schools?
  • How do research-practice partnerships operate as mechanisms to address equitable approaches to linking research, practice, and policy in high school algebra?        
  • How can the effective communication among researchers and teachers be improved and more equitable? What role can visual stimulus notes / sketchnotes play in this process?
  • What are productive images and metaphors for linking research and practice (that help us move beyond a deficiency or ‘gap’ focused storyline).

Grad Student Mentorship Opportunities:
Lead Management of Reality Math Circle Project.
Co-author papers for conferences and journals.
Lead of co-create expereinces and artifacts to strengthen research-practice links (e.g. video, sketch, write, teacher PD).


  • Writing Across the Curriculum Faculty Fellow, Syracuse University, 2019-2020
  • Service, Teaching, and Research (STaR) Fellow of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), 2019 Cohort
  • Linking Research and Practice Outstanding Publication Award, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Mathematics Teacher. The winning article, "Equivalent Expressions Using CAS and Paper-and-Pencil Techniques" was authored by Nicole L. Fonger, published May 2014, pp. 688-93.

Courses Taught

  • Pre-calculus (MAT 194)
  • Calculus (MAT 295)
  • Methods and Curriculum in Teaching Mathematics (SED 413/613)
  • Linking Research and Practice in (Mathematics) Education (EDU 700/ MTD 700)
  • Internship in Mathematics Education (MTD 630)
  • Candidacy Student Teaching (EDU 508)
  • Research Seminar in Mathematics Education (MTD 830)
  • Undergraduate Research in Mathematics Education (MTD 330)
  • First Year Forum (CAS 101)