Laura R. Van Zoest

Photo of Laura R. Van Zoest
Laura R. Van Zoest
Associate Chair and Professor of Mathematics Education
(269) 387-4527
(269) 387-4530
4420 Everett Tower, Mail Stop 5248
Mailing address: 
Department of Mathematics
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5248 USA
  • Ph.D., Mathematics Education, Illinois State University, 1994
Teaching interests: 
  • Secondary school mathematics methods
  • Research methods for mathematics education
  • Content courses for elementary and middle school teachers
Research interests: 
  • Productive use of student mathematical thinking
  • Process of becoming an effective mathematics teacher
  • Use of practice-based materials in methods courses

Dr. Laura R. Van Zoest is a professor of mathematics, specializing in mathematics education, in the Department of Mathematics at Western Michigan University. She specializes in secondary mathematics teacher education, focusing specifically on the process of becoming an effective mathematics teacher and ways university coursework can accelerate that process. Lines of research have included investigating the effect of reform curriculum materials on teacher development, the use of practice-based materials in university methods courses, and the cultivation of productive norms in teacher education. Her current NSF-funded work ( involves developing a theory of productive use of student mathematical thinking. She has served as the principal investigator for research and professional development projects funded at over two million dollars and published in research and practitioner journals, including the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, Teacher and Teacher Education, Mathematics Teacher Educator and the Mathematics Teacher. She was editor of Teachers Engaged in Research: Inquiry into Mathematics Practice, 9–12, guest co-editor of the ZDM: The International Journal on Mathematics Education focus issue Theoretical frameworks in research on and with mathematics teachers, and co-editor of Research Trends in Mathematics Education. She co-chaired the 2012 PME-NA conference hosted by Western Michigan University, served as chair of the steering committee of PME-NA and currently serves on the International Advisory Board for Research in Mathematics Education and is chair of the Editorial Panel for Mathematics Teacher Educator.