With almost 85,000 followers on X and close to 80,000 on TikTok, mathematics instructor Howie Hua is one of the most popular instructors at Fresno State.
Hua is on a mission to make math cool. His social media comment section shows evidence he’s making good progress.
“This is so clear! Can’t wait to share it with my son, who’s learning long division right now. Thank you!!” Erika-Leigh Howard posted on X, formerly Twitter.
Erika-Leign was responding to Hua’s TikTok video explanation posted on X about solving a long-division algorithm.
Parents are not the only ones having ‘aha moments’ after watching Hua’s videos. His TikTok video explanation for permutation and combination formulas using ice cream flavors as props dazzled another mathematician.
“I have a master’s degree in applied math, and this is the first time I’ve understood this concept. Thank you!” TikTok user Trace said.
“You are such an amazing teacher! I struggled with this concept when I first learned it. But now, [it’s] so clear. I wish I had a teacher like you growing up,” another TikToker said.
My goal is to make more people love math and to make education in general more humanizing,” Howie Hua, Fresno State’s mathematics instructor.
New TikTok video: Did you know you can subtract left to right? pic.twitter.com/jNTIm6Voqi
— Howie Hua (@howie_hua) September 1, 2022
The comments on Hua’s social media would be a dream come true for any college instructor, but he takes it in stride, maintaining an authentic modesty rarely seen among social media influencers.
Department of Mathematics chair Dr. Carmen Caprau, said her department was fortunate to have Hua, a Fresno State alumnus, as a faculty member.
“Having Howie as an undergraduate mathematics major, some years ago, and now as a wonderful and successful colleague makes me very happy and proud,” Caprau said. “His social media posts and videos have drawn lots of attention, and he has been invited to give numerous presentations at conferences and hold professional developments for teachers in the continental US, Hawaii, and Canada.”
His commitment to teaching is captured in a YouTube video, posted in 2021, where he makes three promises to his students.
“1) I will honor your thinking. 2) I will be approachable and accessible. 3) By the end of this course, I will show you that you are good at math.”
At Fresno State, Hua pays close attention to his students. His office hours are moments for connecting with students and giving them an undivided one-on-one tutoring.
Senior liberal studies major Emmanuel Macias, who attended Hua’s class last fall, credits him for boosting his confidence as a mathematics teacher.
“Entering the semester, I was not so confident that I would be able to pass Math 100,” Macias said. “I was thrilled to see that office hours resulted in me getting better scores on my exams and homework and even passing the class with an A.”
Macias said Hua’s TikTok videos and creative ways of visualizing “world problems” set his teaching style apart.
“He was always patient and welcomed feedback in order to improve his teaching methods. This was a huge benefit to my classmates and I because it showed that he was genuinely passionate about us becoming successful teachers,” Macias said.
Despite having a vast social media following, Hua has created an easy-to-navigate website, a one-stop shop for all his works.
“I try to share all of my teaching tips, memes, and TikTok math explainer videos on this website because my goal is to make more people love math and to make education in general more humanizing,” Hua says.
Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, Dr. Christopher Meyer, described Hua as a pivotal part of the College.
“I’m continually impressed with his creativity and innovation,” Meyer said. “He has represented our College and Fresno State so well in numerous conferences around the nation.”
Hua’s fame on social media has made him a much sought-after guest speaker at various conferences. In 2023, he participated in more than 20 conferences, some as a keynote speaker. He’s already scheduled to speak at 16 conferences this year.
His journey as a math professor was recently featured in Edutopia, an educational foundation started by Star Wars movie creator George Lucas.
Click here to read more from Edutopia.