James A. Middleton is professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering in the School for the Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy at Arizona State University. He is the past director of the Center for Research on Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (CRESMET) at Arizona State University, which worked to improve K-12 STEM education. Prior to these appointments, Middleton served as associate dean for research for ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College for three years, and as director of the division of curriculum and instruction for another three years plus. He received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992, where he also served in the National Center for Research on Mathematical Sciences Education as a postdoctoral scholar for three years.
Middleton’s research interests focus in the following areas where he has published extensively: children’s mathematical thinking; teacher and student motivation in mathematics; and teacher change in mathematics. He is currently developing methodologies for utilizing the engineering design process to improve learning environments in science, engineering and mathematics. He has also written on effective uses of educational technology in mathematics and science education as a natural outgrowth of these interests. To fund his research, Middleton has garnered more than $20 million in grants to study and improve mathematics education in urban schools. He just finished a $1.8 million research grant to model the longitudinal development of fractions, rational number and proportional reasoning knowledge and skills in middle school students, and is currently engaged in a project studying the sustainability of changes in urban elementary teachers’ mathematics practices. All of his work has been conducted in collaborative partnerships with diverse, economically challenged, urban schools. This relationship has resulted in a significant (positive) impact on the direction that partner districts have taken, including a significant increase in mathematics achievement in the face of a rising poverty rate.
Professor Middleton just finished a term as senior co-chair of the Special Interest Group for Mathematics Education in the American Educational Research Association. Previously he served for three years on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Research Committee, chairing that committee in 2006. He has served on several task forces for the NCTM, is a regular reviewer for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education, and serves on the boards of several regional and national-level research centers. He has been a consultant for the Rand Corporation, the National Academies, the American Statistical Association, the IEEE, and numerous school systems around the country.