Identifying Effective Instructional Practices that Foster the Development of Algebraic Thinking in Elementary School


This project seeks to identify teaching practices that can be linked to students’ early algebra learning in grades three, four and five. The goal of the project is to use assessment data and videos of classroom teaching in order to create a tool that can be used to document effective instructional practices. This observation tool can then be used to support teacher professional development in early algebra and research about how teachers’ actions can be linked to students’ learning. The project is unique in its work to link an early algebra curriculum with understanding of teachers’ practices in implementing that curriculum and students’ learning of mathematics. The project aims to address two research questions. First, what profiles of instructional practice are associated with greater student performance in early algebra? Second, to what extent do these profiles of effective instructional practices vary by grade level? The primary product of the work is an early algebra observation protocol that will capture non-domain and non-grade level specific practices of effective teaching in combination with practices specific to early algebra. Videos of early algebra classrooms will be used to design the observation protocol, which in turn, will then be used along with student assessment data to identify profiles of instructional practices associated with students’ learning.

Partners / Collaborators

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation (2017-2021). Principal investigators are Eric Knuth (UT-Austin), Ana Stephens (UW-Madison), Maria Blanton (TERC), Angela Gardiner (TERC), and Despina Stylianou (CUNY-CCNY).