Barbara Brizuela

Professional Title
Associate Professor and Department Chair
About Me (Bio)
Bárbara studied in Argentina and the US, where she moved in 1995. She has been a kindergarten and seventh grade teacher in Argentina as well as a Spencer Foundation research training grantee. In 2008-2009 Bárbara was a Spencer Fellow, a Fulbright Senior Scholar, and a Schuster Family Faculty Fellow in Arts & Sciences (Tufts University). Her current research focuses on children's learning of written numbers, notational aspects of mathematics (see, and children's learning of elementary mathematics, including early algebra.

Since 1998, she has also been involved in a research project on children's early algebraic reasoning and teaching elementary school children, exploring the intertwined nature of arithmetic and algebra (see In the past, she has also investigated the connections between engineering and algebra through a project funded by the General Electric Foundation. Her main areas of interest are early childhood education, cognitive development, and mathematics education.
TERC, Inc.

This project is studying how young children in grades K-2 understand mathematical concepts that are foundational for developing algebraic thinking. Researchers are contributing to an ongoing effort to develop a learning trajectory that describes how algebraic concepts are developed. The project uses teaching experiments, with researchers talking directly to students as they explore algebraic ideas. They explore how students think about and develop concepts related to covariation, representations of functions, relationships among variable, and generalization.

Tufts University

This project will explore how children in grades K-2 understand visual representations of algebraic concepts. For instance, children might create tables or graphs to organize information about the relationship between two quantities. They might use graphs and diagrams to explain their mathematical thinking and develop their understanding of relationships in numbers and operations. The project will use data gathered in K-2 classrooms and via interviews with children to describe their use of the visual representations. This exploratory project aims to develop learning trajectories as cognitive models of how children in grades K–2 understand visual representations for algebraic relationships.

TERC, Inc.

This project will use classroom-based research to teach children about important algebraic concepts and to carefully explore how children come to understand these concepts. The primary goal is to identify levels of sophistication in children's thinking as it develops through instruction. Understanding how children's thinking develops will provide a critical foundation for designing curricula, developing content standards, and informing educational policies.