Dr. Martínez was born and raised in Sacramento, California. He had a very positive and supportive upbringing in large part due to the sacrifices his family made and the obstacles they overcame, having emigrated from México to the United States. Growing up, Dr. Martínez never envisioned a life in academia. In high school, he thought he wanted to pursue nursing as a profession, which is the path that Dr. Martínez started on during his first year of undergraduate studies at California State University (CSU), Sacramento. In his first year at CSU Sacramento, he was required to take the calculus sequence. Dr. Martínez found enjoyment in these classes and wanted to understand more about the world of mathematics, so he decided to change his major to mathematics and embark on a new journey with an unknown destination. This change of major developed into a passion for mathematics that led him to a master’s degree in applied mathematics at San Diego State University. In the master’s program he was given the opportunity to teach Calculus II as a teaching assistant, which ignited a new interest in the teaching and learning of mathematics. Dr. Martínez wanted to know what circumstances led to differential learning opportunities for the students in his classroom. Pursuit of this interest led Dr. Martínez to a joint Ph.D. program in Mathematics and Science Education at the University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University. Having experienced his higher education within the CSU system, he is now honored to be a faculty member at CSU Long Beach where he now serves as a mentor and role model for his students, particularly for the over 40% Latinx/Hispanic student population at CSU Long Beach.
Dr. Martínez has contributed to the Mathematical Sciences in various forms including research, teaching, and service. Dr. Martínez’s research is broadly focused on the improvement of undergraduate mathematics education. Generally, this is a thorny issue, which has required a multi-pronged approach. One branch of Dr. Martínez’s research is the investigation of change efforts at various higher-ed institutions across the United States interested in making systemic and cultural changes in their mathematics departments to better serve their students. This includes making curricular changes, as well as professional development changes to approach instruction from more inquiry-based and active-learning perspectives. A second strand to Dr. Martínez’s research is investigating the impact that computer programming may have in the teaching and learning of mathematics. This primarily includes the use of text-based programming languages as an onramp for students to engage with mathematics. A third strand of his research investigates the impact of non-traditional grading and assessment strategies in higher education.
This third strand relates directly to Dr. Martínez’s contributions in teaching. That is, his philosophy of learning is that learning is not defined by an accumulation of points, instead, it is a cyclical process of doing, reflecting, and refining one’s work. As a result, in Dr. Martínez’s classrooms, students have justified their own grades by documenting evidence of 1) mathematical development and progress, 2) overcoming personal challenges, and 3) ways in which they have supported their peers succeed. This approach has empowered students as active participants where the goal is to document evidence of learning, not evidence that they can successfully complete procedural mathematics.
As for Dr. Martínez’s contributions in the area of service, he is part of a team of mathematics education researchers that have facilitated a number of national professional development experiences for mathematics instructional faculty interested in improving their instruction to be more active and inclusive. The main focus with the professional development workshops is for instructors to develop the understanding that not all active learning classrooms are inclusive, and that it requires an intentional effort to create an equitable learning environment.
“Hispanic Heritage Month means recognizing the amazing work that Latino-American and Hispanic individuals have contributed to our society. Moreover, it is a celebration of the many diverse Latin cultures and experiences of previous generations that have shaped our existence in the United States today.”