Investigating the Support for Algebraic Thinking in the Math Trailblazers Elementary Curriculum

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Kate Kline



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Algebra is a subject historically taught at the high school level. Students’ struggles with learning the subject are well documented in the research literature and public media. Although efforts have begun treatment of this subject in the middle school grades, the following question has surfaced: How might algebraic concepts be brought into the elementary grades, in order to promote student development towards learning the more formal subject in high school and beyond?

Math Trailblazers is one of four National Science Foundation funded curriculum development projects seeking to exemplify the vision put forth in the 1989 and 2000 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards documents (Reys & Reys, 2007). These Standards documents support the development of algebraic thinking, beginning in the elementary grades.

Calls have been made for specific curricular adjustments that more strongly promote student development of algebraic thinking in the elementary grades (e.g. Cai & Moyer, 2008), but there is a need for research to investigate if and how different curricular programs actually accomplish this goal.


One of the winners of 2012 Research and Creative Activities Poster Day.

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