Victoria Hand

Victoria Hand
Associate Professor
C&I: Math & Science Education

School of Education, Room 318
University of Colorado Boulder
249 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Victoria Hand is Associate Professor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. She focuses on issues of culture, learning, identity and equity in the mathematics classroom. Her research examines the development of opportunities to learn in mathematics classrooms, and how these opportunities are negotiated differently by groups of students from various ethnic, racial, linguistic, and social backgrounds. She draws on situative and critical perspectives to analyze how the process of negotiation is influenced by the system of activity within a given classroom, and by broader sociopolitical processes and structures. Her teaching interests span a range of areas including equity in mathematics education, theories of mathematics teaching and learning, the design of classroom learning environments, and the analysis of classroom interaction.


PhD Educational Psychology, Stanford University, 2003
MA Learning, Design & Technology, Stanford University, 1998
BA Quantitative Economics, University of California, San Diego, 1989

I am a member of the Diversity in Mathematics Education Center (an NSF-CLT), which consists of a group of scholars committed to studying, teaching, and theorizing about issues of race, power, culture and injustice in mathematics education. I have participated in the dissemination of the center's findings through the design of graduate coursework and seminars, teacher professional development activities, and a handbook chapter for the Second Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning.

Broadly speaking, my research contributes to the field's understanding of different interpretations of equity among reform-oriented mathematics classrooms, and the relation between opportunities for mathematics learning and the construction of student engagement and opposition.

The Construction of Opposition in a Low-Track Mathematics Classroom

This year-long research study conducted through the NSF-funded DiME-CLT investigated the development of opportunities to learn mathematics in low- and high-track middle school mathematics classrooms with diverse populations of students. Opportunities for learning (and resisting) mathematics were analyzed with respect to patterns in task structure, the nature of the mathematical activity, the framing and positioning of student participation in this activity, and multiple dimensions of student competence in and out of the classroom. This study found that classroom opposition is fostered by weak opportunities for meaningful mathematical engagement and the transformation of a participation structure that polarizes student activity into an oppositional one.

On the Court and In the Classroom: Mathematical Identities of Basketball Players

This year-long project funded by the Spencer Foundation and conducted with Dr. Na'ilah Nasir at Stanford University investigated the participation practices and identity development of African American high school basketball players in the contexts of basketball and mathematics class. This study found that the practice of basketball supported deep engagement as players had greater access to an understanding of the domain, were assigned and took up a unique role that was integral to the practice, and had opportunities to express themselves and feel competent. The high school mathematics classroom differentially afforded these opportunities with one student taking them up, and the other being unable to, and thus being less engaged.

Construction of Mathematical Identities in Middle School

This year-long study funded by the Spencer Foundation and conducted with Dr. Melissa Gresalfi and Dr. James Greeno at Stanford University examined the nature and development of mathematical identities in relation to both subject-matter content learning and social participation in middle school classrooms. The findings of this study were published in a doctoral thesis by Dr. Melissa Gresalfi.

Stanford University Mathematics Teaching and Learning Study

This five-year study funded by NSF and led by Dr. Jo Boaler at Stanford University examined traditional versus reform mathematics instruction. Publications from the study report on the success of reform mathematics instruction in supporting students' authority, ownership, accountability, and achievement around powerful mathematical ideas. A case study of Railside High School illustrates how a multi-dimensional approach to classroom instruction supports a greater range of students' participation in classroom mathematical practices.

My teaching interests span a range of areas including equity in mathematics education, theories of mathematics teaching and learning, the design of classroom learning environments, and the analysis of classroom interaction. The following is a subset of courses I have taught across various institutions:

Mathematics Knowing for Equitable Teaching 

University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO

This course examines the nature of mathematics knowing that teachers need to reach all students in K12 classrooms. The course focuses on the Mathematics Knowledge for Teaching (MKT) framework, and the challenges it poses to mathematics educators and researchers in re-conceptualizing the professional knowledge base and development of mathematics teachers. This framework is juxtaposed with sociocultural theories of learning and critical theories of race to consider how mathematics knowing for equitable teaching is necessarily situated within multiple communities and power structures. Students investigate and interrogate fundamental ideas in empirical research, theoretical debates, and educational policies about what mathematics students should learn, what it takes to teach this, and how mathematics teaching (and learning) is related to broader contexts and communities.

Theories of Mathematics Learning 

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

This course explores prominent theories of learning in mathematics education. These theories for mathematics learning are surveyed with respect to the cultural, historical and social conditions in which they emerged. Students are required to consider different theoretical perspectives for the design and analysis of mathematical learning environments, with the goal of assessing effective research questions and methodologies.

Theories of Mathematics Teaching 

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

This course focuses on the learning and development of both novice and experienced mathematics teachers with an emphasis on learning to teach in ways that are consistent with reform-based ideals. Mathematics teaching and teacher education are addressed at multiple levels of educational activity, and with respect to professional practice. The aim of the course is to grapple with the tensions involved in preparing mathematics teachers in relevant mathematical content, linking the professional preparation of math teachers to everyday classroom life, and creating structures that support teachers in examining and refining their practice within a professional community.

Elementary Math Methods: Middle Grades 

Various Universities

This course examines methods for mathematics teaching and learning for prospective elementary and middle school teachers. Topics range from creating an equitable and just classroom for students from a range of backgrounds, fostering an inquiry-based classroom culture that supports students’ mathematical reasoning and positive mathematical identity to interpreting and developing students’ mathematical thinking, and finally, to designing, teaching, and improving classroom mathematics lessons.

(For complete list of publications, please see the faculty member's curriculum vitae.)


Hand, V. M. (2010). The Co-Construction of Opposition in a Low-Track Mathematics ClassroomAmerican Educational Research Journal, 47 (1), 97-132. doi: 10.3102/0002831209344216

Nasir, N. S., Hand, V., & Taylor, E. V. (2008). Culture and mathematics in school: boundaries between cultural and domain knowledge in the mathematics classroom and beyond. Review of Research in Education, 32, 187-240.

Nasir, N. S., & Hand, V. (2008). From the Court to the Classroom: Opportunities for Engagement, Learning and Identity in Basketball and Classroom Mathematics. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 17(2), 143-180.

Nasir, N. S., & Hand, V. (2006). Exploring sociocultural perspectives on race, culture, and learningReview of Research in Education, 76(4), 449-475.

Hand, V. (2006). Operationalizing culture and identity in ways to capture the negotiation of participation across communities. Human Development, 49(1), 36-41. doi: 10.1159/000090302

Book Chapters

Hand, V., Quindel, J., & Esmonde, I. (2010). Status and Competence as Entry Points into Discussions of Equity in Mathematics Classrooms. In M. Q. Foote (Ed.), Mathematics Teaching & Learning in K-12: Equity and Professional Development (pp. 151-166): New York: Palgrave.

DiME. (2007). Culture, race, power, and mathematics education. In F. Lester (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning (2nd ed., pp. 405-434): Reston: VA: NCTM.