Project to Produce Roadmap for Teaching Elementary Grades Algebra

Will help teachers systematically develop children's algebraic thinking.

October 29, 2017

Led by WCER's Ana Stephens, a new project will produce a roadmap for teaching and learning algebra in Grades K-2 that will clarify and deepen the role of algebra in the elementary grades, strengthen college and career readiness standards and practices, and support elementary teachers in systematically developing children's algebraic thinking.

Students need sustained algebra instruction throughout Grades K-12 mathematics education, if their informal intuitions about mathematical structure and relationships are to be transformed into more formal ways of mathematical thinking. This study therefore will design a curricular framework for developing children's algebraic thinking across Grades K-2, with a particular focus on understanding how to support the teaching and learning of algebra with culturally and linguistically diverse students and those with math difficulties or disabilities.

To date, no research-based models are available to guide the development, characterization, and assessment of young children's algebraic thinking, particularly at the start of formal schooling. This study will produce a prototype Grades K-2 instructional sequence, related assessments, and characterizations of progressions in students' thinking as they advance through the instructional sequence.

The context for this study is a North Carolina elementary school, which consists of a student population that is 64% non-white, with 63% categorized as low SES and 27% as English Language Learners. The sample consists of approximately 60 Grades K-2 students.

This work is funded by the National Science Foundation through its Discovery Research K-12 program, which seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.