Researcher biography

Key research areas: Inquiry-based teaching practices in mathematics education; statistical reasoning and informal inference; data science education in schools

Dr Katie Makar is a Professor in Mathematics and Statistics Education at The University of Queensland and President of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA). Her award-winning research focuses on mathematics teachers' learning of pedagogies that support complex problem solving and children's statistical reasoning in an era of data science. Funded by over $1.6 million in grants and consultancies, Katie's classroom-based research collaborates with practicing teachers to seek pragmatic solutions to improving teaching and learning.

Her most recent ARC Discovery Project (2017-2020, $370 000) Developing classroom norms of inquiry based learning in mathematics collaborated with Associate Professor Jill Fielding to investigate how primary teachers initiate, build and sustain a productive classroom culture and mathematical practices conducive to addressing complex problems that rely on mathematical evidence. Her four previous ARC projects studied teachers' adoption of inquiry-based practices (ARC Linkage Projects 2007-2009, 2009-2012), development of positive learning environments and data-based argumentation (ARC Discovery Projects 2012-2014, 2014-2017).

The quality and impact of Katie's highly-cited research is evidenced by both university and national awards. A Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA) Research Award (2017) recently acknowledged the international impact of her work on children's statistical reasoning, particularly her development of informal statistical inference. Katie had previously won MERGA's Early Career (2007) and Practical Implications (2011) Awards, providing national recognition of the quality and impact of her research on teachers' adoption of mathematical inquiry. Social and Behavioural Science Faculty Award for Research Impact and Innovation (2010) and UQ Promoting Women Fellowship (2010) further showcased her research within the university.

Katie is the former deputy and acting Head of the School of Education (2016-2018) and has been consultant to the Queensland Department of Education, Queensland College of Teachers, Wireless Generation (New York), Cognition Education (New Zealand) and the Australian Centre for Educational Research. She led a project team for the Australian Academy of Science's reSolve: Mathematics by Inquiry initiative to design innovative mathematics curriculum units for teachers that utilised mathematical inquiry.

Katie's leadership is further evident in her engagement with the profession. As President of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA), she leads capacity-building, research quality and outreach initiatives to shape the direction of the field. Her other leadership roles include co-director (with Prof Dani Ben-Zvi, University of Haifa) of the International Collaboration for Research in Statistical Reasoning, Thinking and Literacy (2013-present); Executive Boards for the International Association for Statistical Education (2017-2019) and Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (2009-2012; 2023-2024); current or past editorial board member for three peer-reviewed journals (Mathematics Education Research Journal, Statistics Education Research Journal and Technology Innovations in Statistics Education) and guest editor of three special issues (Mathematical Thinking and Learning and Educational Studies in Mathematics).

A highly-cited author, Katie has published seven authored and edited books, twenty-five peer-reviewed journal articles and sixteen book chapters as well as presenting her research on six continents. Her edited volumes of research include the Handbook of Research in Statistics Education (Springer, 2018), Research in Mathematics Education in Australasia 2012-2015 (Springer, 2016) and The Teaching and Learning of Statistics: International Perspectives (Springer, 2015).

A former classroom teacher for 15 years in USA, Malaysia and Nepal, Katie holds a PhD in Mathematics Education (University of Texas), Master of Arts in Mathematics (Pure Mathematical Logic, University of California, Berkeley) and Bachelor of Arts (with honours) in Mathematics. She is a qualified secondary mathematics teacher (Queensland, California).

Featured projects Duration
Mathematical Inquiry
Australian Research Council
Inquiry Teaching in Mathematics: Accelerating the process of change
ARC Linkage Project