I (Cathy Kessel) was educated as a mathematician, specializing in mathematical logic. I taught for three years after my PhD, then quit for a variety of reasons. Some of these are given in my 1990 UME Trends article “Why I Quit My Job.”
During the 1990s, I made the shift from being a mathematician to being a researcher in mathematics education, auditing courses, and working on research projects at the School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. I now work as a mathematics education consultant.
What a mathematics education consultant does may not be completely obvious. I’ve listed some of the projects I’ve worked on below. These tend to involve various combinations of mathematical knowledge, education expertise, and editing skills.
From 2007 to 2009, I served as president of the Association for Women in Mathematics. (Note: This blog is not intended to represent AWM or any other organization.) Unsurprisingly, I’m interested in research on mathematics and gender. I’ve written about that as well as about mathematics education.
One of my current projects is Progressions for the Common Core State Standards.
Some Past Projects
Editor, Mathematical Education of Teachers II, Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences, 2012,
Editor, Critical Issues in Mathematics Education workshop booklet, Teaching Teachers Mathematics: Research, Ideas, Projects, Evaluation, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, 2009,
Writer, Learning Across Boundaries: U.S.–Japan Collaboration in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 2007,
Consultant, Research for Better Schools guide to TIMSS public release videos, 2005. Available (in part) at
Editor, Mathematical Education of Teachers, Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences, 2001,
Additional writer, Principles and Standards of School Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000.
Editor and indexer, Liping Ma, Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics, first edition, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999; anniversary edition, Routledge, 2010. (Article about Ma’s book which discusses our collaboration: Fang & Paine, “Bridging polarities: How Liping Ma’s Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics entered the U.S. mathematics and mathematics education discourses,” Pedagogies, 4(3), 195–218. “Comparative dissertation becomes bestseller in mathematics education,” a
short article about the impact of the book, is here. Ma’s web site is here.)
Some articles, reports, and book chapters (some peer-reviewed, some not)
Gender and education
C. Kessel. (2011). Women. Encyclopedia of Mathematics and Society, edited by Sarah Greenwald and Jill Thompson. Croton-on-Hudson, NY: Golson Media.
C. Kessel and D. Nelson. (2011). Statistical Trends in Women’s Participation in Science: Commentary on Valla and Ceci (2011). Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(2), 147–149.
Many co-authors. (2007). Women mathematicians in the academic ranks: A call to action. Report of the 2006 BIRS workshop on women and mathematics,
C. Kessel. (2007). Op ed. Bay Area Businesswoman News, February,
C. Kessel. (2006). Perceptions and research: Mathematics, gender, and the SAT. Focus, 26(9), 14–15,
M. Linn and C. Kessel. (2005). Gender and assessment. In Carol Goodheart & Judith Worell (Eds.), Handbook of girls’ and women’s psychological health: Gender and well-being across the life span. New York: Oxford University Press.
M. Linn and C. Kessel. (2002). Gender differences in cognition and educational performance. In Lynn Nadel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of cognitive science (pp. 261–267). New York: Macmillian.
M. Linn and C. Kessel. (2001). Test bias. In Judith Worrell (Editor in Chief), Encyclopedia of women and gender (pp. 1129–1140). Academic Press.
M. Chiu, C. Kessel, J. Moschkovich, and A. Muñoz-Nuñez. (2001). Learning to graph linear functions: A case study of conceptual change. Cognition and Instruction, 19(2), 215–251.
C. Kessel. (2001). What’s in a name? MER Newsletter 13(3), 4–5, 10–11. Available at
C. Kessel. (1999). Testing: . . . 2, 3, 4, . . . , 11, 12, 12+; G–, G+: CAP, CAT, CTBS, . . . , ITBS, . . . ; ACT, SAT; GRE, LSAT, MCAT; NTE. MER Newsletter 11(3), 8–11. [Slightly updated version available at:
A. Arcavi, C. Kessel, L. Meira, and J. Smith. (1998). Teaching mathematical problem solving: A microanalysis of an emergent classroom community. Alan Schoenfeld, Ed Dubinsky, and James Kaput (Eds.), Research in Collegiate Mathematics Education III (pp. 1–70). Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society. Available in manuscript form at
and in published form via Google.books.