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New Faculty: Dr. Katherine E. Lewis

Dr. Katherine E. Lewis has been appointed an assistant professor at the UW College of Education. Lewis focuses on special education, specifically high incidence disabilities, and she will be working in the high incidence disability program as well as teaching assessment and math methods courses in the special education teacher preparation program.  In conjunction with Dr. Roxanne Hudson and Dr. Doug Cheney, Lewis will advise the masters students in the high incidence disability program.

katie lewisOf joining the UW College of Education, Lewis says, “The UW College of Education has an amazing reputation and a fantastic faculty, which I feel very honored to be joining.  I was drawn to UW because of the clear mission of conducting innovative research with a practical purpose.  The College's commitment to the teacher preparation programs and their partnerships with schools highlights their dedication to serving students.  I am excited to join a special education faculty that values multiple theoretical and educational perspectives in the research and teaching of students with disabilities.  My research on math learning disabilities falls at the intersection of math education and special education; the UW faculty has breadth and depth in each of these areas and I look forward to future opportunities for collaboration.”

Lewis’ research aims to understand and address the unique difficulties experienced by students with math learning disabilities. She has a Ph.D. and M.A. in education from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation, ‘Toward a Reconceptualization of Mathematical Learning Disabilities: A Focus on Difference Rather than Deficit’, was funded by the Spencer Foundation. Lewis also worked in an NSF funded multi-university center focused on Diversity in Math Education.

“Through Diversity in Math Education, I was able to explore a conceptualization of learning disabilities as an issue of diversity and equity,” she states. “Core to my ongoing work is an understanding of disability in terms of difference rather than deficit, and a focus on providing accessible instruction for these students.”    
She also has an M.Sc. in multimedia systems from Tritiny College Dublin and graduated magna cum laude from Notre Dame with a B.A. in psychology and computer applications.

As a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota, Lewis worked with supervisor Michèle Mazzocco to analyze data from a longitudinal project on mathematical development. They identified qualitatively different patterns of development for students with mathematical learning disabilities as compared to their typically achieving and low achieving peers.

Lewis has extensive experience in special education teaching and has taught at a range of institutions. Student’s use and understanding of mathematical representations has been central to her work.

For example, at Berkeley, Lewis worked with Geoff Saxe on the IES funded Learning Mathematics through Representations (LMR) project, which produced a research-based curriculum for teaching students about integers and fractions using the number line.  

“The curriculum was designed to elicit and leverage students’ understanding about core mathematical ideas,” Lewis explains. “Exploring and acknowledging the understandings that students bring to their learning of mathematics has been central to my work with students with math learning disabilities.”  

In her personal life, Lewis enjoys hiking, skiing, developing black-and-white photographs, and practicing American Sign Language (ASL).  

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