Ana Stephens


Ana Stephens is a Researcher at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Her research concerns the development of students' algebraic thinking in the elementary grades.

Recent Publications:

Stephens, A., Veltri Torres, R., Sung, Y., Strachota, S., Murphy Gardiner, A., Blanton, M., Stroud, R., & Knuth, E. (2021). From "You have to have three numbers and plus sign" to "It's the exact same thing": K–1 students learn to think relationally about equations. Journal of Mathematical Behavior. 62.

Stephens, A., Stroud, R., Strachota, S., Stylianou, D., Blanton, M., Knuth, E., & Gardiner, A. M. (2021). What early algebra knowledge persists one year after an elementary grades intervention? Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 52(3), 332–348.

Stephens, A., Sung, Y., Strachota, S., Veltri Torres, R., Morton, K., Murphy Gardiner, A., Blanton, M., Knuth, E., & Stroud, R. (2020). The Role of Balance Scales in Supporting Productive Thinking about Equations Among Diverse Learners. Mathematical Thinking and Learning. DOI: 10.1080/10986065.2020.1793055

Blanton, M., Stroud, R., Stephens, A., Gardiner, A., Stylianou, D., Knuth, E., Isler, I., & Strachota, S. (2019). Does early algebra matter? The effectiveness of an early algebra intervention in grades 3–5. American Educational Research Journal, 56(5), 1930–1972.

Blanton, M., Isler-Baykal, I., Stroud, R., Stephens, A., Knuth, E., & Murphy Gardiner, A. (2019). Growth in children’s understanding of generalizing and representing mathematical structure and relationships. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 102, 193–219.

Blanton, M., Brizuela, B., Stephens, A., Knuth, E., Isler, I., Gardiner, A., Stroud, R., Fonger, N., & Stylianou, D. (2018). Implementing a framework for early algebra. In C. Kieran (Ed.), Teaching and Learning Algebraic Thinking with 5- to 12-year-olds. The Global Evolution of an Emerging Field of Research and Practice (pp. 27–49). Springer International Publishing.

Fonger, N. L., Stephens, A., Blanton, M., Isler, I., Knuth, E., Gardiner, A. (2018). Developing a learning progression for curriculum, instruction, and student learning: An example from mathematics education. Cognition and Instruction, 36(1), 30-55.

Stephens, A., Ellis, A., Blanton, M., & Brizuela, B. (2017). Algebraic thinking in the elementary and middle grades. In J. Cai (Ed.). Compendium of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 386-420). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Stephens, A. C., Fonger, N. L., Strachota, S., Isler, I., Blanton, M., Knuth, E., & Gardiner, A. (2017). A learning progression for elementary students’ functional thinking. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 19(3), 143-166.

Stephens, A. & Knuth, E. (2017). Algebraic reasoning in grades 6-8. In M. Battista (Ed.). Reasoning and Sense Making in the Mathematics Classroom: Grades 6-8 (pp. 47-71). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Knuth, E., Stephens, A., Blanton, M., & Gardiner, A. (2016). Building an early foundation for algebra success. Phi Delta Kappan97(6), 65-68.

Stephens, A. with Blanton, M. (2016). Algebraic reasoning in prekindergarten-grade 2. In M. Battista (Ed.). Reasoning and Sense Making in the Mathematics Classroom: Pre-K-Grade 2 (pp. 71-104). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Knuth, E., & Stephens, A. (2016). The equal sign does matter. In E. Silver & P. Kenney (Eds.), More lessons learned from research: Volume 2: Useful research on teaching important mathematics to all students (pp. 135–140)Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Blanton, M., Stephens, A., Knuth, E., Gardiner, A., Isler, I., & Kim, J. (2015). The development of children's algebraic thinking: The impact of a comprehensive early algebra intervention in third grade. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 46(1), 39-87.

Stephens, A., Blanton, M., Knuth, E., Isler, I., & Gardiner, A. (2015). Just say YES to early algebra! Teaching Children Mathematics, 22(2), 92–101.


Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information
Phone: (608) 890-4374
Office: 683 Ed Sciences

Current Projects

Project LEAP: Extending a Grades 3-5 Early Algebra Learning Progression into Grades K-2
Cultivating Knowledge of Mathematical Equivalence

Completed Projects

Anchoring Problems in Technology-Rich Environments to Enhance the Math Skills of Adolescents with Disabilities
Advancing the Math Skills of Low-Achieving Adolescents in Technology-Rich Learning Environments
Revision of the Mathematics in Context Materials
Developing Algebra-Ready Students for Middle School: Exploring the Impact of Early Algebra
Collaborative Research: The Impact of Early Algebra on Students' Algebra-Readiness
The Impact of a Teacher-Led Early Algebra Intervention on Children's Algebra-Readiness for Middle School
Identifying Effective Instructional Practices that Foster the Development of Algebraic Thinking in Elementary School
Building a Grades K-2 Early Algebra Learning Progression Prototype for Diverse Populations