Thomas DeFranco

Professor Emeritus


Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Education, Neag School of Education 
Professor of Mathematics, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Co-director, Center for Research in Mathematics Education

Academic Degrees:

Ph.D. New York University, Mathematics Education, 1987
M.S. Seton Hall University, Mathematics, 1980
B.S. SUNY at New Paltz, Mathematics, 1972

Areas of Expertise:

Mathematical Problem Solving

Mathematics Education


Dr. DeFranco served as dean of the Neag School of Education from 2009 to 2014 after serving five years as associate dean and another two years as director of teacher education.

Since arriving at UConn in 1991, he has held joint faculty appointments in the Neag School’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Department of Mathematics. This enables him to combine his love of teaching with his passion for mathematics — an achievement that earned him one of UConn’s highest honors in 2001 – University Teaching Fellow. In 2008, he received the Teaching Innovation Award from the AAUP – Conn. chapter.

Dr. DeFranco is as ardent about his research as he is his teaching. His research focuses on math problem-solving and on the teaching and learning of mathematics. Based on much of that work, he has authored or co-authored numerous articles, a book on mathematical problem-solving, and has been the principal or co-principal investigator on many grants.

He is credited with co-developing an innovative proposal for improving teacher preparation which resulted in the Neag School’s landing the Teachers for a New Era project, a major initiative and grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Working with math department colleague Chuck Visonhaler, the pair established and now co-direct the Center for Research in Mathematics Education, which combines the math department’s emphasis on content with the Neag School’s interest in pedagogy and performance.

Dr. DeFranco got his start in teaching at the elementary and secondary school levels. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz, a master’s from Seton Hall University, and a Ph.D. from New York University. He taught mathematics at St. John’s University on Staten Island and mathematics education at the University of Hartford.

Selected Publications/Presentations:

Truxaw, M. P. and DeFranco, T. C. (2005). Models of teaching to promote mathematical meaning: Unpacking discourse in middle grades mathematics classes. Proceedings of the 27th Annual Meeting: North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (in press).

Santucci, K., and DeFranco, T. C., (2004) The development of a knowledge base for teaching among undergraduate mathematics faculty teaching calculus. Proceedings of the Twenty-sixth Annual Meeting: North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Vol. 3, 1387-1388.

Kulikowich, J. & DeFranco, T.C. (2003). Philosophy’s role in characterizing the nature of educational psychology and mathematics. Educational Psychologist, 38(3), 147-156.

Book—DeFranco, T. C. & Vinsonhaler, C. I. PProblem SSSolving. Wadsworth Thompson.

McGivney, K.G., McGivney-Burelle, J., DeFranco, T.C. & McGivney, R. (2003). Equal volume ?Equal surface area?: Investigations of hazardous waste containers. AMATYC Review. Vol. 25, No. 1, (pp. 65-74).

DeFranco, T. C. & McGivney-Burelle, J. (October, 2002). Cultural influences on the teaching of mathematics: Four case studies of international teaching assistants. Paper presented at the Twenty Fourth

DeFranco, T.C., McGivney-Burelle, J. M., & McGivney, R. J., Arthurs, E. (2001). The generalized open box problem. The AMATYC Review, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 3-14.

DeFranco, T. C. and Hilton, P. (2000). Caracteristiques distintives entre processos mecanics i processos humans de resolucio de problemes. Butlleti de la societat catalana de matematiques institut d’Estudis Catalans, 15(1) pp. 29-34.

DeFranco, T. C. and Hilton, P. (1999). Distinguishing Features of Mechanical and Human Problem-Solving. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 18 (1), 79-84.

DeFranco, T. C., (1996). A Perspective on Mathematical Problem Solving Based on the Performances of Ph.D. Mathematicians. Research in CollegiateMathematics Education.II In Kaput, J., A. Schoenfeld, E. Dubinsky (Eds.), Issues in Mathematics Education Vol. 6, Conference Board of the Mathematic


University Teaching Fellow 2001

Thomas DeFranco
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