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Vilma M. Mesa

Professor, Marsal Family School of Education; By Courtesy Professor of Mathematics, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts


(734) 647-0628


Room 3119
610 E. University Ave.
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1259

Vilma Mesa is Professor of Education and Mathematics at the University of Michigan, and Faculty Associate at the Center for the Study of Higher and Post-secondary Education at the University of Michigan.

She investigates the role that resources play in developing teaching expertise in undergraduate mathematics, specifically at community colleges and in inquiry-based learning classrooms. She has conducted several analyses of instruction and of textbooks and collaborated in evaluation projects on the impact of innovative mathematics teaching practices for students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. She is the 2022 recipient of the Association of Women in Mathematics’ Loiuse May Award for Contributions to Mathematics Education and 2022 University of Michigan’s the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Opportunity Mentor Award. She served as Associate Editor for the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education from 2000-2004 and is currently serving as associate editor for Educational Studies in Mathematics . She was a research associate at “una empresa docente” a research center in Mathematics Education at the University of Los Andes, in Bogotá, Colombia where she co-authored university textbooks for pre-calculus for engineering and probability and statistics for social science majors. She has published over 60 articles and book chapters in mathematics education and raised over $6M in federal funding to support her work. Prior to her career in education, Mesa was a systems programmer for the ministry of finances in Colombia and for the district of Bogotá, and a computing systems advisor for a large construction and hospitality firm in Colombia. She has a B.S. in computer sciences and a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Georgia.


Number Course Name Location Days
EDUC 792
Methods in Educational Research: Qualitative

Prerequisites: Doctoral standing or permission of instructor.
Surveys qualitative methods of inquiry as they are currently used in the study of the contexts, processes, and effects of education. Introduces students to elementary statistics, exploratory data analysis, research design, and/or interviewing, narrative and argument analysis, and interaction and setting analysis.

Selected Publications

"Improving calculus I in community colleges: It takes a [multidisciplinary] village."

Burn, H., White, N. J., & Mesa, V. (in press). Community College Journal of Research & Practice.

 "Mathematics education at public two-year colleges."

Mesa, V. (in press).  In J. Cai (Ed.) First compendium for research in mathematics education. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

"Good teaching of Calculus I."

Mesa, V., Burn, H., & White, N. (in press). In D. M. Bressoud, V. Mesa, & C. L. Rasmussen (Eds.) Insights and recommendations from the MAA National Study of College Calculus. Washington, DC.

"Instructional decision-making and agency of community college mathematics faculty."

Lande, E., & Mesa, V. (2016). ZDM The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 48(1), 199-212. doi:10.1007/s11858-015-0736-x

"Insights and recommendations from the MAA National Study of College Calculus."

Bressoud, D., Mesa, V., Rassmussen, C. (Eds.)(2015). Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America.

"Technologies, resources, and instruments in university mathematics education."

Gueudet, G., Buteau, C., Mesa, V., & Misfeldt, M. (2014). Research in Mathematics Education. 16(2), 139-155. doi: 10.1080/14794802.2014.918349

"Describing cognitive orientation of calculus I tasks across different types of coursework."

White, N. J., & Mesa, V. (2014) ZDM Mathematics Education, 46(4), 675-690. doi: 10.1007/s1185801405889

"Research problems in community college mathematics education: Testing the boundaries of K-12 research"

Mesa, V., Wladis, C., & Watkins, L. (2014). Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 45, 173-193.

"Teaching approaches of community college mathematics faculty: Do they relate to classroom practices?"

Mesa, V., Celis, S., & Lande, E. (2014). American Educational Research Journal 52, 117-151.

"Achievement goal orientation of community college mathematics students and the misalignment of instructors' perceptions."

Mesa, V. (2012) Community College Review, 40(1), 46-74. DOI: 10.1177/0091552111435663


The Research on Teaching Mathematics in Undergraduate Settings (RTMUS) Lab currently conducts three projects focused on the teaching and learning of mathematics in higher education.


Award Start Date
Sep 15, 2016
Award End Date
Sep 01, 2018
Award Start Date
Jan 20, 2012
Award End Date
Jun 30, 2013
Award Start Date
Sep 01, 2011
Award End Date
Aug 31, 2013
Award Start Date
Feb 01, 2001
Award End Date
Feb 01, 2002