Victoria S Akin
Assistant Professor of the Practice of Mathematics

I am an Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Mathematics Department. I work primarily on teaching and math education. I am currently interested in the retention of women in STEM fields and the effect of intervention programs on girls' attitudes and beliefs about math. I am co-directing the Girls Exploring Math (GEM) program as part of this research effort. Additional interests include grading systems and their impact on student anxiety and satisfaction, as well as professional development programs and their effect on graduate student teaching.

Current Research Interests

I am interested in mathematics education and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Currently, I am focused on the retention of women in STEM, graduate student teacher training, and undergraduate grading/assessment.

I am involved in an interdisciplinary research project focused on the retention of women in STEM fields and the effect of intervention programs on girls' attitudes and beliefs about math. Together with Sophia Santillan (Pratt Mechanical and Materials Science), Lauren Valentino (Ohio State Sociology), and Suzanne Crifo (Duke ARC), I am running the fourth year of an outreach program and research study, Girls Exploring Math (GEM). The program engages middle school girls from Durham Public Schools in math workshops. The program combines mathematical problem solving with age-appropriate discussions about the impact of social constructs on self-concept. Preliminary data show modest increases in confidence and growth mindset among participants. While the pandemic impacted our ability to reach middle school students, we will return to in-person programming in Spring 2022. Spatial reasoning is one indicator of future STEM success in which women tend to under-perform compared to their male counterparts. However, work by Sheryl Sorby has demonstrated the positive effect of targeted interventions on spatial reasoning skills. The GEM program will gather data on the persistence of spatial reasoning skills post intervention.

I am interested in professional development for mathematics graduate students (preparing new graduate students to teach). Together with Emily Braley (Johns Hopkins) and Jack Bookman I have documented the host of professional development activities run by the Duke Math Department: Together with Shira Viel, Jack Bookman, and Kristen Gerondelis, I have begun collecting data to assess the impact of the Duke professional development program on mathematics graduate student teaching. In particular, we would like to identify the aspects of the training program that graduate students perceive as most helpful. Our long term goals include identifying the activities that are correlated with teaching success.

I am participating in a Duke faculty learning community with the goal of designing and implementing more inclusive assessments. Together with Shira Viel, I have explored the evolution of grading systems in the Duke first-year calculus courses. I am interested in further investigating the impact of various grading strategies on student experience and persistence. In particular, I would like to collect and analyze data on student anxiety in mastery-based systems. In Spring 2021, I ran a mastery-grading version of Calculus I. I hope to use the materials developed for Spring 2021 in future semesters and assess the impact of a mastery system on student anxiety.

Office Hours

Office: Physics 125

Math/Stat 230: Spring 2022

EHD 396: Spring 2022
By appointment

Current Appointments & Affiliations

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