Developing Algebra-ready Students for Middle School: Exploring the Impact of Early Algebra

This project is developing and testing a curricular learning progression of early algebra objectives and activities for students in grades 3 - 5. The goal of the work is to provide teachers with curricular guidance and instructional resources that are useful in preparing students for success in study of algebra at the middle grade level. The project is also developing and validating assessment tools for evaluating student progress toward essential pre-algebra mathematical understandings.

Full Description

The project Developing Algebra-Ready Students for Middle School: Exploring the Impact of Early Algebra, led by faculty at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and the University of Wisconsin is developing and testing a curricular learning progression of early algebra objectives and activities for students in grades 3 - 5. The goal of the work is to provide teachers with curricular guidance and instructional resources that are useful in preparing students for success in study of algebra at the middle grade level. The project is also developing and validating assessment tools for evaluating student progress toward essential pre-algebra mathematical understandings.

The basic hypothesis of the project is that findings from prior research on early algebra learning need to be consolidated into a coherent longitudinal curriculum strand in elementary school mathematics and that effective use of such curricular resources also requires teacher access to high quality assessments of student learning progress. The project is using content analysis, synthesis of the research literature on early algebra, and classroom teaching experiments to produce and test the curricular learning progression and teaching resources. The assessment instruments are being developed and validated using standard psychometric techniques.

Since the ultimate utility of any early algebra materials depends on designing them in such a way that typical elementary teachers can use them effectively, the project is also conducting exploratory work on professional development of teachers. This work lays the groundwork for what the proposers envision to be a subsequent large scale comparative study to test the hypothesis that appropriate early algebra experiences in elementary grades will enhance learning of formal algebra in later grades.


Project Videos

2017 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Preparing Students for Success in Algebra

Presenter(s): Maria Blanton & Eric Knuth