Research indicates that 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 the more formal ways of mathematical thinking. Currently, however, 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 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 students in at-risk settings. Study outcomes will include a prototype Grades K-2 instructional sequence, related assessments, and characterizations of progressions in students’ thinking as they advance through the instructional sequence. The impact of this work would be to provide a critical roadmap for teaching and learning algebra in Grades K-2 that can clarify and deepen the role of algebra in the elementary grades, strengthen current college and career readiness standards and practices, and provide curricular support for elementary teachers in systematically developing children’s algebraic thinking.


Partners / Collaborators

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation (2017-2020). Principal investigators are Eric Knuth (UT-Austin), Ana Stephens (UW-Madison), Maria Blanton (TERC), Angela Gardiner (TERC), and Rena Stroud (TERC).



Eric Knuth – eric.knuth@austin.utexas.edu


Online Presence


Twitter –  @LEAPAlgebra – Follow to learn about the latest Project LEAP activities