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Theodore Chao

Assistant Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning

Program Area: Math, STEM

(614) 688-1671


Dr. Theodore Chao is an assistant professor of mathematics education in Teaching and Learning's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program. He recently finished a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He earned his PhD in Mathematics education at The University of Texas. He holds a master’s degree in education from St. John’s University, a bachelor of science degree in computer science engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and a bachelor of arts degree in film and media studies from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Chao taught 7th and 8th grade mathematics at I.S. 318 in Brooklyn, NY. As a classroom teacher, he participated in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund exchange program and the NSF-funded Research Experience for Teachers program.

Dr. Chao’s research focuses on the use of photographs and video to open up spaces for mathematical discussion, storytelling and reflection. All of his work revolves around critical pedagogy and equity through mathematics. He has helped organize the Free Minds, Free People conference and volunteered with the Creating Balance in an Unjust World Mathematics Education and Social Justice conference.


  • Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Harvard University, 2014 
  • PhD Mathematics Education, The University of Texas at Austin, 2012 
  • MS Education, St. John’s University, 2004 
  • BS Computer Science Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 2000 
  • BA Film & Media Studies, Johns Hopkins University, 2000

Research Interests

Research Summary

Chao’s research focuses on the use of photographs and video to open up spaces for mathematical discussion, storytelling and reflection. He has developed mobile apps that help children share and discuss their mathematical strategies with teachers. He also uses photovoice to explore how mathematics teachers struggle with the intersection of their ethnic and math teacher identities. All of Dr. Chao’s work revolves around critical pedagogy and equity through mathematics. 

Dr. Chao is a co-PI on an IES-funded project, S3: A Game-based 3rd-grade Math Curriculum, which explores the use of an online, game-based interface to help elementary teachers’ structure and orchestrate rich mathematical classroom discussions. He also is studying Asian American Mathematics Teacher Identity through the use of photovoice interviews, finding how gender, race, and the model minority myth affect how Asian American math teachers approach their practice with Kari Kokka of Harvard University. Dr. Chao is developing a smartphone app that helps mathematics teachers better listen to their students' mathematical thinking with professors from Montclair State University and Harvard University as well.

Selected Publications

  • Chao, T. (2014). Photo-elicitation/Photovoice interviews to study mathematics teacher identity. In J. Lo, K. R. Leatham, & L. R. Van Zoest (Eds.), Research Trends in Mathematics Teacher Education. New York, NY: Springer.
  • Chao, T., Murray, E. C., Gutiérrez, R. (2014) Equity pedagogy research brief. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
  • Chao, T. (2013) Tips for Critical Math Teaching, In A. Miglietta, L. Smith, & D. Stovall (Eds.), Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce Toolkit. Chicago, IL: Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce.
  • Chao, T., & Murray, E. C. (2013). Teacher asynchronous noticing to foster students’ mathematical thinking. In A. C. Superfine, M. Martinez, G. Larnell, T. Stoelinga, & D. B. Martin (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Chicago: University of Illinois at Chicago.