Faculty Profiles

Dr. Ruthmae Sears

Professor, mathematics education

Sears headshot

Email: ruthmaesears@usf.edu
Phone: (813) 974-2172
Office Location: USF Tampa campus, EDU 302-J
Curriculum Vitae available upon request

Ruthmae Sears, Ph.D., is a Professor at the University of South Florida for secondary mathematics education, the Associate Director of Coalition for Science Literacy with a focus on Inclusive Excellence, and  the lead faculty facilitator for the university’s newly created Inclusive and Equitable Pedagogy program. She has a Joint appointment in The Department of Teaching and Learning within the College of Education, and the College of Arts and Sciences. Her research focuses on curriculum issues, systemic change initiatives in K-20 STEM settings, the development of reasoning and proof skills, clinical experiences in secondary mathematics, and the integration of technology in mathematics.

Dr. Sears has presented nationally and internationally, and has published in leading mathematics education journals, such as: Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, ZDM: The International Journal on Mathematics Education, MathAMATYC Educator, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Perspective of Mathematics Education (APME).  She also coordinates developmental mathematics courses, and USF's undergraduate and master’s degree programs in mathematics education.
Dr. Sears is actively engaged in scholarly activities. She is the principal investigator for the City of St. Petersburg funded grant entitled, "Examination of the historical and modern-day impact of structural racism on the lives of Black people in the City of St. Petersburg, Florida," and the NSF-IUSE funded collaborative grant (#1726362) entitled "Attaining Excellence in Secondary Mathematics Clinical Experiences with a Lens on Equity". Dr. Sears is also a co-principal investigator for the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program and key personnel for the NSF-funded grant (#1525574) Systemic Transformation of Education through Evidence-Based Reforms (STEER)

In addition to her research activities, Dr. Sears is the co-chair of the Network of STEM Education Centers (NSEC) Annual Meeting. She is also the co-chair for the Accelerating Systemic Change Network (ASCN) in STEM Higher Education Working group for Equity and Inclusion, and the University of South Florida Representative for the Bay View Alliance-Diversity Equity and Inclusion Working Group. Additionally, she was the associate editor for the NCTM journal, Mathematics Teacher: Learning and Teaching PreK-12 (MTLT), for the high school grade band, and a AAAS-ARISE Blog editor.

Dr. Sears is the Florida Department of Education's State Course Numbering System (SCNS) Discipline Coordinator in the field of Mathematics Education. She currently serves as the chair of the USF College of Education's Faculty Policy Council Ad-hoc Committee for the Faculty Constitution, the chair of the Faculty Success and Community Initiatives Committee (FSCIC), a senator for USF Faculty Senate, and a member of the university’s sabbatical committee. She was the former vice-chair of the college’s Faculty Policy Council and the co-chair of the college’s Reimaging Education committee. Dr. Sears is also a board member for The Bahamas’ PACE Foundation. She also serves on the board of directors for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay.

Awards and Fellowship

Dr. Sears is a recipient of numerous awards for her distinguished contribution to the field of education. Notably, Dr. Sears is a 2022 University of South Florida Outstanding Faculty Award recipient and a 2021 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow. Moreover, Dr. Sears is a 2023 honoree for Mathematically Gifted and Black , 2023 Griffith Leadership Society for Women – Spirit of Martha Award, and the University of the Bahamas Alumni Trailblazer Award Stem Mathematics. Additionally, Dr. Sears was the 2016 Florida Association of Mathematics Teacher Educator (FAMTE) Mathematics Teacher Educator of the Year. Dr. Sears is also the Kappa Delta Pi- International Honor Society for Education, 2022 Chapter Leader Award Recipient for Regional Chapter Counselor. Moreover, Dr. Sears is the recipient of the following awards: the 2022 University of South Florida-Outstanding Faculty Award, the 2022 Office of Multicultural Affairs- I Heart Diversity Award, the 2022 Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - Inclusive Excellence Impact Award, and 2018 USF Chapter of National Council of Negro Women's Katherine Johnson Mathematics Award Recipient. Dr. Sears also previously received the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid Missouri Heroes award, and the VEX robotics volunteer of the year award.

Dr. Sears was a recipient of the Organization of American States Fellowship Award, Lyford Cay Foundation Graduate Scholarship Award, Kappa Delta Pi Hollis Caswell Doctoral Award, Center for The Study of Mathematics Curriculum (CSMC) fellowship award, and the University of Missouri Mathematics Education Scholarship Award.  Additionally, Dr. Sears was selected as an NSF funded IAspire Leadership Academy Fellow in 2020.

Courses Taught

  • Intermediate Algebra
  • Teaching Mathematics for Middle Grades
  • Practicum in Mathematics Education
  • Teaching High School Mathematics
  • Teaching Pre-secondary Mathematics
  • Senior High Mathematics Methods
  • Geometry and Measurement for Middle Grades Teachers
  • Topics in Teaching Geometry
  • Curriculum History and Research in Mathematics Education
  • Dissertation 

Selected Publications

Sears, R., Brosnan, P., Castro-Minnehan, C., Junor-Clarke, P., & Stone, J. (2022).  Collaborating Teachers and Preservice Teachers Attention to the Elements of the Apprenticeship Model for Learning During Clinical Experiences. Drew Polly (Ed.) Preparing Effective Teachers: Advances in Clinical Practice. IAP

Sears, R. (2021, November). Using the 5Rs to Promote Equitable and Just Classroom Norms and Culture in Mathematics. Mathematics Teacher: Learning and Teaching PK-12.

Sears, R. (2021). A Systemic Approach to Attend to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (J.E.D.I) in a High School Mathematics Methods Course. AMTE Connections

Matthews, L., Jessup, N. & Sears, R. (2021). “Looking for ‘Us’: Power Reimagined in Mathematics Learning for Black Communities in the Pandemic. Educational Studies in Mathematics. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10649-021-10106-4.pdf 

Yilmaz, Y., Gulbagci, H, Sears, R., & Nielsen, S. (2021). Are We All in This Together?: Mathematics Teachers’ Perspective on Equity in Remote Instruction During Pandemic. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 1-25

Sears, R., Zelkowski, J., Edwards, B., & Castro-Minnehan (2020, Winter. Developing Infrastructure to Support Teacher Candidates during Emergency Remote Clinical Experiences.  Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE)  Connections.  Retrieved from https://amte.net/connections/2020/11/connections-thematic-articles-voices-field 

Grady, M., Sears, R., Stone, J., & Biagetti, S. (2020). Using co-planning and co-teaching strategies to transform secondary mathematics clinical experiences. In The Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) Professional edited book series, W.G. Martin, B.R. Lawler, A.E. Lischka, &W.M . Smith (Eds). "Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership The Power of a Networked Improvement Community to Transform Secondary Mathematics Teacher Preparation”. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publications.

Males, L., Sears, R., Lawler, B. (2020). Equity and justice in the preparation of secondary mathematics teachers. In The Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) Professional edited book series,  W. G. Martin, B. R. Lawler, A. E. Lischka, &W.M . Smith (Eds). "Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership The Power of a Networked Improvement Community to Transform Secondary Mathematics Teacher Preparation”. Charlotte, NC:  Information Age Publications.

Strutchens, M. E., Sears, R. & Zelkowski (2020). Improving Clinical Experiences for Secondary Mathematics Teacher Candidates. In The Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) Professional edited book series,  W.G. Martin, B.R. Lawler, A.E. Lischka, & W.M. Smith (Eds). "Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership The Power of a Networked Improvement Community to Transform Secondary Mathematics Teacher Preparation”. Charlotte, NC:  Information Age Publications.

Sears, R. (2018) Proof schemes of preservice mathematics teachers. Investigations in Mathematics Learning. p. 1-17.  DOI: 10.1080/19477503.2018.1467106

Sears, R., Kersaint, G., Burgos, F., & Wooten, R.  (2018). Collaborative effort to develop middle school preservice teachers’ mathematical knowledge. PRIMUS. DOI: 10.1080/10511970.2018.1532936

Sears, R., Hopf, F., Torres-Ayala, A., Williams, C.S., Skrzypek, L. (2018). Using plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles and interdisciplinary conversations to transform college algebra. (PRIMUS). DOI: 10.1080/10511970.2018.1532938

Sears, R. (2016). An inherent tension: Students engaging with proof. MathAMATYC Educator, 8(1), 36-42.

Sears, R., Karadeniz, I., Butler, K., & Pettey, D. (2015). Are standards for mathematical practice overlooked in geometry textbooks’ chapter tests? Annual perspectives in mathematics education (APME) 2015: Assessment to enhance learning and teaching (pp. 75-97). NCTM: Reston, VA.

Sears, R., & Chávez, Ó. (2014). Opportunities to engage with proof: The nature of proof tasks in two geometry textbooks and its influence on enacted lessons. ZDM, 46(5), 767-780.

Recent Conference Presentations

Sears, R. (2021, September 22). Leveraging Networks to Advance Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (J.E.D.I) at the University of South Florida. Transforming Institutions AAAS SEA Change Series. (Virtual).

Sears, R. (2021, November 2). Attending to the 5Rs in mathematics: Rigor, relevance, responsiveness, relationship, and responsibility. Invited speaker for Workshop for MAA special interest group on teacher education. (Virtual)

Web Blogs and Other Publications

Sears, R., Matthews, L., & Jessup, N. (2021, February). Reimagining STEM Education Pipeline for Teachers of Color. Blog for American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Boyce, S., Ion, M., Mcleod, K., Pyzdrowski, L., Sears, R., & St. Goar, J. (2021, May 7). Best-Laid Co-Plans for a Lesson on Creating a Mathematical Definition. Blog for American Mathematical Society https://blogs.ams.org/matheducation/2021/05/06/best-laid-co-plans-for-a-lesson-on-creating-a-mathematical-definition/