Johannah Nikula

Email Johannah Nikula

Johannah Nikula
Leadership for Learning Innovation
Project Director

Mailing Address: 

43 Foundry Avenue
Waltham, Massachusetts 02453-8313



Johannah Nikula helps teachers make engaging and intellectually stimulating mathematical learning experiences available and accessible to all learners. She specializes in designing and studying models of professional development for mathematics teachers, with a particular focus on teachers working with students from diverse backgrounds and students who possess varying degrees of proficiency in English.

Nikula is co–Principal Investigator of the Mathematical Record Keeping Supports Cognition and Communication study, which is examining features of mathematics tasks that promote student record keeping and investigating how cognition and communication is different for students, in particular for English learners (ELs), when they complete tasks with these design features. As the co-PI of the recently completed Mathematics Coaching Supporting English Language Learners project funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), she oversaw a team that developed and studied professional development materials for middle-grades mathematics teachers focused on enhancing the mathematical learning and academic language development of students who are ELs. In other recent initiatives, Nikula has served as an instructional coach for mathematics teachers of ELs and conducted research that examines the efficacy of geometry-focused professional development materials for teachers of ELs. (Read a blog post by Nikula about her work with mathematics teachers of students who are ELs.)

As a key contributor to the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Implementing the Mathematical Practice Standards initiative, Nikula is developing online resources and professional development materials that illustrate the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMP). The goal of this work is to help teachers gain a deep understanding of the SMP and to provide them with strategies to support students in using the SMP. She is also one of the lead developers of middle grades statistics education resources for the Measuring and Addressing Middle-Grades Misconceptions in Statistics project funded by the NSF.

Nikula has co-authored professional books and chapters on models of mathematics teacher professional development and mathematics teaching and learning. Examples include A Mathematics Leader’s Guide to Lesson Study in Practice; Fostering Geometric Thinking: A Guide for Teachers Grades 5–10; the chapter "Secondary School Students’ Proportional Reasoning" (published in Teaching and Learning Mathematics: Translating Research for Secondary School Teachers); and The Fostering Algebraic Thinking Toolkit: A Guide for Staff Development. Her articles appear in journals such as Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School ("Supporting English Learners—Lessons from Research") and Mathematics Teacher Educator ("Developing Teachers’ Knowledge of a Transformations-based Approach to Geometric Similarity").

In the past Nikula has partnered with Horizon Research, WestEd, and Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley. She has also collaborated with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Nikula received a BA in psychology with a minor in mathematics from Middlebury College and an EdM from Harvard University Graduate School of Education with a focus on Technology in Education.