Darrell Earnest

headshot of Darrell Earnest

Darrell Earnest

Associate Professor
Math, Science, & Learning Technologies

Email icondearnest@educ.umass.edu

Phone icon(413) 545-2403

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W157 Furcolo

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B.A., Washington University, 1998
M.A., Tufts University, 2002
M.A., University of California, Berkeley, 2007
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2012


Dr. Darrell Earnest is an Associate Professor in the College of Education. He studies thinking and learning in STEM areas, with a particular focus on the interplay of representations and tools with doing mathematics.  His research has focused on how students think and learn about time, a mathematics topic that permeates other STEM areas in order to explore behavior and change in the world. He would enjoy talking with you about the analog clock, hourglasses, or any other timekeeping device.  

His work has been published in the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, Cognition and Instruction, Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, Journal of Numerical Cognition, and Teaching Children Mathematics. He is committed to exploring issues of equity in mathematics education.

Current projects include:

Clock Work.This project investigates how elementary children come to think about time. Time is ubiquitous in most people’s lives—yet how is it that we come to understand this property of the world that is both invisible and untouchable?  And, given that technology has enabled easy access to digital clocks, what is it that we want children to learn and know about time, particularly given its central role in examining change situations?

Through interviews and design-based activities with students, this strand of work tackles such questions, and includes investigations into how children grapple with tools for time in standard units (analog and digital clocks) as well as non-standard units (reasoning and predicting using hourglasses of unspecified duration). 

Contributing graduate and undergraduate students include: Alicia Gonzales (Ph.D. student), Christine McGrail (Ph.D. student), Anna Plant (Ph.D. student), Michelle Eastman (Ed.S., 2016), Emily Brennan (B.A. 2015, M.Ed., 2016), Kosoom Kreetong (Ed.S., 2016), and Carol Santora (B.A., 2015)


The Time Literacy Project. Beginning in 2018, this strand of work considers the role of time and time representations in the planning and activity of undergraduate students. With various university groups, including programs for first-year students and with Disability Services, I have interviewed students about their ongoing time management practices with a particular focus on: (1) how representations of elapsed time (such as a calendar or planner) support their ongoing planning through a spatial representation of elapsed time; and (2) how such practices and representations support their success in the face of stressful periods of the semester or unexpected roadblocks that might emerge. 

Contributing graduate students include: Alicia Gonzales (Ph.D. student) and Zander Crowley (M.Ed. student).


Lesson Planimation. This strand of work focuses on the creative design process in which teachers engage as they interpret curriculum materials in order to design instruction in elementary mathematics. Although preservice teachers cannot know which curriculum materials they might eventually have in their first classrooms, we do know that such materials—which typically include an abundance of information and reflect a particular philosophy of teaching—influence the instruction that children experience. In this project, Dr. Julie Amador (University of Idaho) and I explore how preservice elementary teachers draw upon features of curriculum materials to design lessons, and we consider how we as mathematics teacher educators might support their noticing of curricular materials in order to support student learning. Our goal is to empower new teachers to design student-centered, inquiry based lesson when using any potential set of curriculum materials. Our work has featured teacher animations of lesson plans that illuminate how they imagine a lesson coming to life.


Courses Taught

Graduate level courses

EDUC 673, Advanced Child Development

EDUC 690, How Children Learn Mathematics (part of Early Grades Reading certificate program)

EDUC 691R, Promising Practices in School Mathematics (elementary licensure course)

EDUC 714, Learning and Thinking in Childhood


Undergraduate level courses

EDUC 463, Principles and Methods of Teaching Mathematics, pre-K – 6

EDUC 490E, Mathematics and Science Methods for Early Childhood Education, pre-K – 2 (ECE licensure course)

FFYS 191: Time Management (Faculty First-Year Seminar)

HumDev 270: Child Development (undergraduate Gen Ed course)

  • Department of Teacher Education & Curriculum Studies