Alumni Spotlights

Sam Otten

Sam Otten

Sam Otten graduated from GVSU in 2006 with a BS in mathematics (secondary teaching emphasis) and psychology minor. He is currently an assistant professor of mathematics education at the University of Missouri at Columbia.  In addition to teaching both methods courses to pre-service high school mathematics teachers and courses in the mathematics education doctoral program, Sam maintains an active research program.  His scholarly interests include “reasoning-and-proving and student participation in middle and high school mathematics classrooms.”

An important experience for Sam as an undergraduate was taking part in a summer research program.  “It gave me insight into the true nature of mathematical inquiry, which I am now seeking to bring into secondary students' experiences with mathematics. Proof-writing was also very helpful in terms of forming (and communicating) chains of reasoning. I use this skill constantly in my academic pursuits.”

To students considering a major in mathematics, Sam suggests students ask themselves “if they enjoy thinking carefully and if they are willing to think very hard to solve problems, uncover patterns, and formulate valid arguments. If so, then mathematics could be a great major for them.”  For current mathematics majors, Sam thinks it a good idea for students to find study partners.  “Most mathematical work is struggling toward a solution or the key to unlock a proof and actually having a solution or an answer is but a brief moment of celebration before it's on to the next problem. If you don't enjoy the struggle, and if you don't have anyone to struggle with, then it's not going to be much fun.”

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Page last modified December 4, 2014