University Marketing and Communications

Ozgul Kartal

September 30, 2021

Written by Craig Schreiner | Photos by Craig Schreiner

Ozgul Kartal stands outside.

In WHY I TEACH, Ozgul Kartal, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at UW-Whitewater, talks about teaching how to teach. Her aspiring teachers in the College of Education and Professional Studies come to her classes to develop a roadmap they will use with their own elementary and middle school students in mathematics. They develop and test the models that will inspire interest and understanding in young learners. The underlying goals, Kartal said, are “deep learning, problem solving and reasoning.”

Kartal, who studied mathematics at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, completed her master’s degree in applied mathematics and her Ph.D. in mathematics education at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

“I studied mathematics at college simply because I was attracted to the beauty and power of mathematics. Right after graduation, I was awarded a full scholarship to pursue my master’s degree in applied mathematics. I began teaching mathematics at a high school that served underrepresented communities. My teaching experience in high-needs and underserved schools led me to wonder if I could have been better prepared to teach students with poor mathematical backgrounds.”


Ozgul Kartal teaches at a table with students.

Ozgul Kartal, right, teaches mathematics methods to aspiring elementary, middle school and special education teachers on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. From left are Mya Vogel, Cori Patterson and Emely Tovar.(UW-Whitewater photos/Craig Schreiner)


“I developed some ideas and hunches about how traditionally unsuccessful student populations learn and process mathematics, and about what helps them maintain interest and persistence in mathematics. The experience resulted in a desire to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics education. My motivation was my desire to make an impact on how mathematics is taught and learned in schools. So, I chose to work with and prepare future teachers at UW-Whitewater. My students are elementary education and special education majors who often come to my classes with a high rate of math anxiety who seek confidence in their ability to teach math. Their goal is to feel more comfortable and prepared for teaching math as they exit my methods class.”


Ozgul Kartal teaches at a table with students.

Kartal, standing, helps aspiring elementary, middle school and special education teachers to feel more comfortable about teaching math. From left are Eryn Weisbrod, elementary education major, Austin Delgado, elementary education major, Isaac Byrne, special education major, and Josh Gomoll, elementary education major. (UW-Whitewater photos/Craig Schreiner)


“Students have certain dispositions towards teaching and learning mathematics. They perceive teaching of mathematics as the way they were taught — the way they learned. I challenge their perceptions of how to teach mathematics. The most rewarding moments for me is to hear them say “This course has made me look at teaching mathematics in a whole new way” or “This course changed my view of mathematics.”


WHY I TEACH is a series about the dedicated professionals at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, including professors, coaches, advisors and other staff members, who make every day a teachable moment — and every place a learning place — by their expertise and example.

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