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Luis A. Leyva

Assistant Professor, Mathematics Education, Department of Teaching and Learning


Leyva’s research rests at the intersections of mathematics education, gender studies, and higher education. It is motivated by issues of underrepresentation and social oppression in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) among historically marginalized populations, including women, students of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

His research examines how historically marginalized students at intersections of race, gender, and sexuality construct their identities while navigating contexts of P-16 mathematics and, more broadly, STEM education. Leyva draws on interviews and classroom observations to illuminate how marginalized students’ experiences reveal identity constructions while navigating racialized, gendered educational spaces in mathematics and STEM more broadly. His research aims to catalyze change in P-16 mathematics education to broaden socially affirming learning opportunities for marginalized students across different intersections of social identities. 

In 2015, Leyva was distinguished with a Dissertation Fellowship by the National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation. He recently received the 2018 Early Career Publication Award from the Research in Mathematics Education special interest group of the American Educational Research Association.

Brief Biography

Leyva was certified as a K-12 mathematics teacher in New Jersey and recognized with the 2011 Distinguished Student Teacher of Year Award by the New Jersey Department of Education. In addition to his teacher training, Leyva holds over six years of professional experience in higher education initiatives, including living-learning communities and summer bridge programs, designed to increase STEM retention and success among historically marginalized groups. As a doctoral student at Rutgers University, Leyva completed a graduate certification program in women’s and gender studies and received the 2016 Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student Award.

Current Projects


Challenging, Operationalizing, and Understanding Racialized and Gendered Events (COURAGE) in Undergraduate Mathematics. Funded by the National Science Foundation. Lead Principal Investigator (Collaborative research with Rutgers University)

This three-year project uses a mixed-methods design to identify specific events in pre-calculus and calculus classrooms that women and racially minoritized students of color find potentially marginalizing. The project investigates perceptions of these events from the vantage points of undergraduate mathematics instructors as well as students who are well represented and underrepresented in STEM. Focus group interviews and surveys are used to assess the generalizability of these findings with a national sample of undergraduate students and mathematics course instructors. Findings from this work will inform the design of professional development materials for creating more equitable learning environments in undergraduate mathematics classrooms. 


Intersectionality as a Methodological Tool for Understanding Undergraduate Women of Color’s Experiences as Computing and Engineering Majors.Funded by the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology (Arizona State University) and Kapor Center. Principal Investigator.

This project explores how intersectionality can be used as a methodological tool to better understand the educational experiences of women of color pursuing majors in computing and engineering. Insights from this project will illustrate the methodological potential of intersectionality in STEM educational research to advance equitable opportunities for entry, persistence, and degree completion among women of color in undergraduate computing and engineering.

Completed Projects

A Situated, Intersectional Analysis of Racialized and Gendered Mathematics Experiences among Successful Latin@s in Mathematics-Intensive MajorsWriting funded by the National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation. Principal Investigator.

This phenomenological study detailed ideological, institutional, and relational influences on the mathematics success of five undergraduate Latinx students pursuing engineering majors at a large, predominantly white university. Semi-structured interviews, a focus group, and monthly observations in college mathematics classrooms were used to capture Latinx women’s and Latinx men’s negotiations of their mathematical success with their social identities. Findings inform how institutions of higher education can carve academically supportive and socially affirming opportunities in classrooms and STEM support initiatives that serve Latinx students pursuing mathematics-intensive majors.

Multidimensional Mathematical Learners: Examining Race/Gender Positionalities in Mathematics. Principal Investigator.

This project examined the construction of mathematics identities among 18 first-year college students from social backgrounds, both well represented and underrepresented, in STEM fields. Mathematics autobiographies, interviews, focus groups were used to detail ideological, institutional, and relational influences on the students’ mathematics experiences and identity constructions while pursuing mathematics-intensive majors at a large, predominantly white university. Findings inform more equitable educational practices in P-16 mathematics and development of STEM support programs responsive to marginalized students’ academic and social needs.