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San Diego State University


Joanne Lobato

Coordinator, Joint Doctoral Program (JDP) in Mathematics and Science Education


Ph.D. Mathematics Education, University of California at Berkeley, 1996

Research Interests

A major part of my research has involved developing the actor-oriented transfer perspective, which led to an interest in “noticing” from both psychological and socio-cultural perspectives. More recently, I have been motivated by the need for alternative models of videos to be used in learning mathematics online and by the emerging research area of learning vicariously through observing online dialogues. I’ve pursued these interests through empirical studies on the learning and teaching of the following topics at the secondary school level: algebraic reasoning, ratios and proportions, slope and linear functions, quadratic functions, rates of change, and multiplicative reasoning. 

Current Research Project

Re-imagining Video-Based Online Learning. The goal of this project is to create, investigate, and provide evidence of promise for a model of online videos that embodies a more expansive vision of both the nature of the content and the pedagogical approach than is currently represented in YouTube-style lessons. Rather than relying on an expository style, the videos produced for this project focus on pairs of students, highlighting their dialogue, explanations, and alternative conceptions. Rather than letting the set of procedures emphasized in traditional textbooks drive instruction, the videos develop productive mathematical meanings, interpretations, and connections that are situated within a conceptual learning trajectory. The project is funded by NSF DRK-12. (


(Since 2002; most are available at

Lobato, J., Walters, C. D., Hohensee, C., Gruver, J., & Diamond, J. M. (2015). Leveraging failure in design research. ZDM—The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 47, 963-979. 

Lobato, J., Hohensee, C., & Diamond, J. (2014). What can we learn by comparing students' diagram-construction processes with the mathematical conceptions inferred from their explanations with completed diagrams? Mathematics Education Research Journal, 26 (3), 607-634. 

Lobato, J., (2014). Why do we need a set of conceptual learning goals in algebra when we are drowning in standards? In K. C. Moore, L. P. Steffe & L. L. Hatfield (Eds.), Epistemic algebra students, WISDOMe Monographs (Vol. 4; pp. 25-47). Laramie, WY: University of Wyoming.

Lobato, J., Hohensee, C., & Rhodehamel, B. (2013). Students’ mathematical noticing.  Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 44(5), 809-850.

Lobato, J. & Diamond, J. (2013). Cross-cutting themes from international research on early algebra, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 44(4), 730-735. 

Lobato, J. (2012). The actor-oriented transfer perspective and its contributions to educational research and practice.  Educational Psychologist, 47(3), 1-16. 

Lobato, J., Hohensee, C., Rhodehamel, B., & Diamond, J. (2012). Using student reasoning to inform the development of conceptual learning goals: The case of quadratic functions. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 14(2), 85-119. 

Lobato, J., & Rhodehamel, B., & Hohensee, C. (2012). “Noticing” as an alternative transfer of learning process, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21(3), 1-50. 

Lobato, J., & Ellis, A. B. (2010). Essential understandings: Ratios, proportions, and proportional reasoning. In R. M. Zbiek (Series Ed.), Essential understandings. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Lobato, J., & Lester, F.(Eds.) (2010). Teaching and learning mathematics: Translating research to the secondary classroom. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 

Petit, M., Zawojewski, J. S., & Lobato, J. (2010). Formative assessment in secondary mathematics classrooms. In J. Lobato, & F. K. Lester Jr. (Eds.), Teaching and learning mathematics: Translating research to the secondary classroom (pp. 67-74). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Lobato, J., (2008). On learning processes and the National Mathematics Advisory Panel Report, Educational Researcher, 37(9), 595-601.

Lobato, J. (2008). Research methods for alternative approaches to transfer: Implications for design experiments. In A. E. Kelly & R. A. Lesh, and J. Y. Baek (Eds.), Handbook of Design Research Methods in Education: Innovations  in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Learning and Teaching (pp. 167-194). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. 

Lobato, J. (2008). When students don’t apply the knowledge you think they have, rethink your assumptions about transfer. In M. Carlson & C. Rasmussen (Eds.), Making the Connection: Research and Teaching in Undergraduate Mathematics (pp. 289-304). Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America.

Olive, J., & Lobato, J. (2008). The learning of rational number concepts using technology. In M. K. Heid & G. W. Blume (Eds.), Research on technology and the teaching and learning of mathematics: Research syntheses (pp. 1-54).  Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc. and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 

Lobato, J. (2006). Alternative perspectives on the transfer of learning: History, issues, and challenges for future research. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(4), 431-450.

Lobato, J., Clarke, D., & Ellis, A. (2005). Initiating and eliciting in teaching: A reformulation of telling. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 36(2), 101-136.

Lobato, J., Ellis, A.B., & Muñoz, R. (2003). How “focusing phenomena” in the instructional environment afford students’ generalizations. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 5(1), 1-36.

Lobato, J. (2003). How design experiments can inform a rethinking of transfer and vice versa. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 17-20.

Lobato, J., & Ellis, A.B. (2002). The focusing effect of technology: Implications for teacher education. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 10(2), 297-314.

Lobato, J., & Ellis, A.B. (2002). An analysis of the teacher's role in supporting students' connections between realistic situations and conventional symbol systems. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 14(2), 99-120.

Lobato, J., & Siebert, D. (2002). Quantitative reasoning in a reconceived view of transfer. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 21(1), 87-116.

Lobato, J., & Thanheiser, E. (2002). Developing understanding of ratio as measure as a foundation for slope, in B. Litwiller (Ed.), Making sense of fractions, ratios, and proportions: 2002 Yearbook (pp. 162-175). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.


Episode 1410 of the Math Ed Podcast. Discussion of "Students' mathematical noticing," published in the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, Volume 44. 

National Service 

  • Associate Editor, Mathematical Thinking and Learning: An International Journal, 2014-present
  • Advisory Board Member for the First Compendium for Research in Mathematics Education, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2012-2016.
  • Board of Directors and Treasurer for Amity Institute, a nonprofit international teacher exchange organization, 2009-present.
  • Editor of the Transfer Strand, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2006-2012. 
  • Executive Board Member of the Special Interest Group in Research in Mathematics Education (SIG/RME) of the American Educational Research Association, 2010-2012. 



 Joanne Lobato 2

  Joanne Lobato


Department of Mathematics and Statistics
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA 92182-7720

Center for Research in Mathematics & Science Education
6475 Alvarado Road, Suite 206
San Diego, CA 92120
Phone: 619-594-2957
Fax: 619-594-1581

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