Ana Stephens

Associate Researcher

Ana Stephens is a Researcher at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Her research concerns the development of algebraic thinking in the elementary grades.

She currently works on LEAP (Learning through an Early Algebra Progression), a series of projects devoted to identifying a framework of early algebraic concepts and practices that can be taught in the elementary grades, testing the efficacy of an instructional sequence built from this framework, and describing levels of sophistication observed in students’ work around particular algebraic concepts.

Her interests include studying the development of children’s mathematical thinking and supporting teachers to focus on student thinking in making instructional decisions.

Recent Publications:

Blanton, M., Stephens, A., Knuth, E., Gardiner, A., Isler, I., & Kim, J. (2015). The Development of Children's Algebraic Thinking: The Impact of a Comprehensive Early Algebra Intervention in Third Grade. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 46(1), 39-87.

Blanton, M., Stroud, R., Stephens, A., Gardiner, A., Stylianou, D., Knuth, E., Isler, I., & Strachota, S. (2019). Does Early Algebra Matter? The Effectiveness of an Early Algebra Intervention in Grades 3–5. American Educational Research Journal, 56(5), 1930-1972.

Fonger, N. L., Stephens, A., Blanton, M., Isler, I., Knuth, E., Gardiner, A. (2018). Developing a learning progression for curriculum, instruction, and student learning: An example from mathematics education. Cognition and Instruction, 36(1), 30-55.

Knuth, E., Stephens, A., Blanton, M., & Gardiner, A. (2016). Building an early foundation for algebra success. Phi Delta Kappan, 97(6), 65-68.

Stephens, A. with Blanton, M. (2016). Algebraic reasoning in prekindergarten-grade 2. In M. Battista (Ed.). Reasoning and Sense Making in the Mathematics Classroom: Pre-K-Grade 2 (pp. 71-104). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Stephens, A., Blanton, M., Knuth, E., Isler, I., & Gardiner, A. (2015). Just say YES to early algebra! Teaching Children Mathematics, 22(2), 92-101.

Stephens, A., Ellis, A., Blanton, M., & Brizuela, B. (2017). Algebraic thinking in the elementary and middle grades. In J. Cai (Ed.). Compendium of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 386-420). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Stephens, A. C., Fonger, N. L., Strachota, S., Isler, I., Blanton, M., Knuth, E., & Gardiner, A. (2017). A learning progression for elementary students’ functional thinking. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 19(3), 143-166.

Stephens, A. & Knuth, E. (2017). Algebraic reasoning in grades 6-8. In M. Battista (Ed.). Reasoning and Sense Making in the Mathematics Classroom: Grades 6-8 (pp. 47-71). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Stephens, A. C., Knuth, E. J., Blanton, M. L., Isler, I., Gardiner, A., & Marum, T. (2013). Equation structure and the meaning of the equal sign: The impact of task selection in eliciting elementary students’ understandings. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 32(2), 173-182.


Contact Information
Phone: (608) 890-4374
Office: 683 Ed Sciences

Current Projects

Identifying Effective Instructional Practices that Foster the Development of Algebraic Thinking in Elementary School
Building a Grades K-2 Early Algebra Learning Progression Prototype for Diverse Populations
Cultivating Knowledge of Mathematical Equivalence

Completed Projects

Anchoring Problems in Technology-Rich Environments to Enhance the Math Skills of Adolescents with Disabilities
Advancing the Math Skills of Low-Achieving Adolescents in Technology-Rich Learning Environments
Revision of the Mathematics in Context Materials
Developing Algebra-Ready Students for Middle School: Exploring the Impact of Early Algebra
Collaborative Research: The Impact of Early Algebra on Students' Algebra-Readiness
The Impact of a Teacher-Led Early Algebra Intervention on Children's Algebra-Readiness for Middle School