The MCLE Project

Designing Mathematically Captivating Learning Experiences


This NSF-funded CAREER research project explores how secondary mathematics teachers can plan and enact learning experiences that spur student curiosity, captivate students with complex mathematical content, and compel students to engage and persevere (referred to as “mathematically captivating learning experiences” or “MCLEs”). This study is important because of persistent disinterest by secondary students in mathematics in the United States. This study will examine how high school teachers can design lessons so that mathematical content itself is the source of student intrigue, pursuit, and passion. To do this, the content within mathematical lessons (both planned and enacted) is framed as mathematical stories and the felt tension between how information is revealed and withheld from students as the mathematical story unfolds is framed as its mathematical plot. The Mathematical Story Framework (Dietiker, 2013, 2015) foregrounds both the coherence (does the story make sense?) and aesthetic (does it stimulate anticipation for what is to come, and if so, how?) dimensions of mathematics lessons. The project will generate principles for lesson design usable by teachers in other settings and exemplar lessons that can be shared.


Learn about upcoming presentations and workshops.


Read about our published and presented work.


View materials designed by the MCLE team for high school students in our drive.


8/29/12 -- Boston, Massachusetts Leslie Dietiker - English Education Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University

Leslie Dietiker,, is an assistant professor in mathematics education at Boston University and is a former high school math teacher and curriculum writer. She is interested in learning how to improve the quality and structure of mathematics curriculum as found in textbooks, lesson plans, and enacted in classrooms. You can learn more about her research, teaching, and curriculum here.


Rashmi Singh,, is a postdoctoral research associate at Boston University who is currently working on the MCLE Project. Her primary research interest is in probing students’ conception in different areas of K-12 mathematics and the factors (standards, instruction, lesson design, etc.) that affect the development of understanding in students. She has taught high school and college mathematics in India and the US.


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Meghan Riling,, is a doctoral student at Boston University studying mathematics education, with an interest in student mathematical creativity, especially in terms of its social and aesthetic components. Previously, she was a math and computer science teacher in the Boston area.


Hector Nieves,, is a doctoral student at Boston University studying mathematics education, with an interest in the effects of learning communities in math classrooms on students’ mathematical self-identity. Previously, he taught math in Los Angeles at the middle and high school level.


Erin Barno,, is a doctoral student at Boston University studying mathematics education, with an interest in culturally responsive pedagogy and mathematical identity.  Previously she taught middle and high school math in Boston and in Cambridge, MA.


Sarina Simon,, is an undergraduate senior at Boston University studying Mathematics Education with an interest in student engagement in the classroom. Using the takeaways from the MCLE project and her background in Computer Science, she hopes to create an inviting and exciting classroom environment conducive to learning.


Past MCLE Team Members

Anna Moss,, was a Masters student at Boston University. After studying at NYU, she began working as a mathematics and physics teacher at the Commonwealth School in Boston. She joined the MCLE project during her sabbatical, which was focused on working to better understand how to create lessons that allow for curiosity and discovery for her students of any education background.


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Kaitlyn Gibson,, is an undergraduate student studying secondary mathematics education at Boston University. She grew up in the Boston area and fell in love with mathematics during high school. This spurred her interest in teaching, and now she wants to make sure that other students can have a chance to fall in love with mathematics, too.



Sadiki Lewis,, was a masters student at Boston University who attained his Master of Arts in Teaching with a focus on mathematics education. After studying math in undergrad, he fell in love working with students and pursuing a teaching degree after mentoring and tutoring high school students in math. He wants to better understand how to deliver challenging, relatable curriculum for students historically marginalized.

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Ildar Tukhtakhunov,, was an undergraduate student studying for his Math Education B.S. at Boston University. After studying in three different education systems in two countries, he wants to better understand curriculum and school management. His interest in mathematics came about after seeing the difference between Soviet and American-style math teaching.



Ci Ren,, received her Bachelors degree in mathematics at Boston University in January 2018. She is from Qitaihe, Heilongjiang Province, Northeast China. She calls herself a passionate dreamer who does what she loves and loves what she does. With passion in curriculum and teaching, she is currently attending grad school in education to continue pursuing her dream.