Mika Munakata

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Professor, Mathematical Sciences

Richardson Hall 211
BA, Pomona College
MA, Teachers College, Columbia University
MS, Teachers College, Columbia University
PhD, Columbia University
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I began my career as a middle school and high school mathematics teacher. My work now at the collegiate level has direct connections to my experiences teaching at the secondary level. I typically teach methods (of teaching) courses for undergraduate students preparing to be teachers, content courses for inservice teachers at the master's level, and research courses for doctoral students. I work closely with K-12 school districts to try to bring innovative programs to K-12 science and mathematics teaching and learning. I am also involved in projects related to STEM education at the undergraduate level.


*science-mathematics connections, especially as they relate to interdisciplinary teaching and learning
*the impact of professional development programs on science and mathematics teachers
*teacher leadership
*problem solving
*undergraduate STEM education


Office Hours


  • Monday 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm
  • Wednesday 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
  • Thursday 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm


  • Tuesday 2:15 pm - 4:15 pm
  • Thursday 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm

Research Projects

Wipro Science Education Fellowship

with Monica Taylor (CEHS), Emily Klein (CEHS), Jackie Willis (PRISM), and Colette Killian (PRISM).
Funded by Wipro Technologies, based in Bangalore India. In partnership with University of Massachusetts Boston and Mercy College.
Five local school districts have been selected to participate in the Wipro Science Education Fellowship (SEF) program at Montclair State University. The Wipro SEF program is a teacher-leadership program that supports experienced K to 12 science teachers to deepen their practice while staying in the classroom. The program uses a model of teacher support and development to increase the capacity of teacher-leadership in their respective districts. This model includes a comprehensive set of activities designed to enhance teachers' abilities to increase achievement in science for underperforming students. Research on the program will contribute to an increased understanding of models of professional development for experienced teachers.

Creativity in Mathematics and Science

with Ashwin Vaidya (Physics)
The Creativity in Mathematics and Science (CMS) Project is funded by the National Science Foundation, Award #1611876
The project seeks to develop, implement, assess, revise, and transfer an innovative model of STEM undergraduate education that highlights creativity in STEM at Montclair State University (MSU), New Jersey. This project includes (i) course modules on creative thinking in STEM for science and non-science majors, (ii) a 2-year engaged student research experience for selected CMS Scholars; (iii) research on the impact of the CMS project on student achievement and changes to students’ perceptions about STEM learning; and (iv) transfer of successful elements to Bergen Community College—MSU’s largest feeder school—and local high schools. The specific aim is to design learning materials and instructional innovations related to creativity in the sciences. The CMS project will address the documented need for STEM students to understand the process of scientific inquiry and will address the role of creativity in scientific endeavors. The three-year cycle of development, implementation, evaluation, reflection, and refinement will promote institutionalization of the instructional practices, and dissemination of project results, and adoption at other institutions.

CUSP: Creative University and School Partnerships

with Erin Krupa, Jackie Willis.
Funded by the New Jersey Department of Public Instruction, a Math Science Partnership Grant, the Department of Mathematical Sciences and PRISM (Professional Resources in Science and Mathematics) of Montclair State University have collaborated with high needs school districts in northern New Jersey to improve mathematics understanding of grades 5-8 students. Teachers at selected schools participate in a three-year professional development. The project topics each year will address different strands of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) until all parts of the CCSSM have been adequately interpreted with clearly developed practices and classroom models that will have an impact on teaching and learning.

The Art of Physics

with Ashwin Vaidya (Physics)
Creativity in the sciences is explored in this project funded by the American Physical Society. Students in Dr. Vaidya's mechanics course participated in project-based learning as they created the mechanism to show a film on sustainability. This experience culminated in a film about sustainable science, acted out by Miss Piggy (http://vimeo.com/65612254). The next steps of the project are to involve the community and to determine the effectiveness of project-based learning and outreach on students' perceptions about science.

Crossing Boundaries: Ecology and Mathematics

with Dirk Vanderklein (Biology), doctoral student Jason McManus
This project attempts to integrate mathematics and biology instruction at the undergraduate level. The research team is developing mathematics/ecology modules to encourage ecology students to discover the mathematical underpinnings of the biology content. These modules will be piloted this semester and the impact of their use in the classroom will be assessed.