Spotlight on new faculty — an interview with Lina Sanchez Wall

Interview by Madinah Muhammad

Fairleigh Dickinson University welcomes Lina Sanchez Wall, as a new assistant professor of mathematics education for the Peter Sammartino School of Education in University College. Sanchez Wall holds a doctorate in mathematics education (Ed.D.) from Rutgers University.


Dr LinaFDU:  What brings you to FDU?

LSW:  I was looking for an American institution with a major global reach. With FDU’s Wroxton College, Vancouver Campus and the Metropolitan and Florham Campuses, it provided me with multiple avenues to explore my research and teaching.


FDU:  Tell us about your new position….

LSW:  This semester I teach three courses, “World of Mathematics: Number,” “World of Mathematics: Algebra,” and “Problem-Based Strategies for Elementary Education.” For the Master of Arts in mathematics foundation, all students are required to be practicing teachers.

The mathematics foundation program was built for elementary and middle school teachers who want to be highly qualified in teaching mathematics but never pursued any higher mathematics courses. My objective is to redevelop the course to make sure that it is aligned with the new content standards in mathematics as well as school mathematics standards. Within this program I work on incorporating engagement and motivation theory, while dispelling the disposition that “I can never be good at math.”

FDU:  How did you become interested in this field?

LSW: I have really enjoyed mathematics since the fourth grade. I was not the best student in the first through third grade, but in the fourth I had a teacher who always talked about college even though we were fourth graders. From an early age I focused on math, I joined math competitions and knew it would be my major in college.

My interest in education developed when I started doing undergraduate research with my mentor. During that time I traveled to multiple public schools in Newark, N.J. (grades 4-9) and worked with teachers to help them build their mathematical content knowledge so they could teach those concepts to their students. From there on I pursued my doctorate in mathematics education so I could remain in the field. I also taught for 2.5 years at Barringer High School in Newark.


FDU:  What is something you would like to contribute to FDU?

LSW: I would like to help students become more comfortable and engaged in mathematics as a major. It seems that a lot of undergraduates stay away from math because of the systemic feeling that math is not something they can do.

FDU:  What is one piece of advice you can give to new students in your class?

LSW: One of the major things I focus on in class is that I am here to encourage you to learn the material, it always goes back to reflection and reflecting on what you are doing. So my advice would be for students to constantly reflect on their course work and try to make connections between mathematics and the theories taught in class.

FDU:  What do you hope that your students will take away from your class?

LSW: For the “Problem-based Strategies” course I hope students begin to build their teaching toolkit with different strategies for teaching that include very important numerical concepts.

For the “Mathematical Foundation” course, I really hope that students use some of the new strategies to begin to change their student’s perception of what mathematics is and how to incorporate more of the technological components that are available so that their practice becomes more 21st century geared.