TERC Senior Researcher Authors Chapters in Two Recent NCTM Publications

November 24, 2010



CAMBRIDGE, MA–TERC PI and senior researcher Susan Jo Russell has authored a chapter in NCTM's Teaching and Learning Mathematics: Examining Research for Elementary Teachers (edited by Diana Lambdin)—a collection of 11 articles on synthesized research geared to the pre K-5 practitioner.

Russell’s chapter, “Learning Whole-Number Operations in Elementary School Classrooms”, reviews ways students can develop the knowledge and skills to solve whole-number operations efficiently. The chapter is structured around the following key questions:

  • How do students come to understand what operations mean?
  • How do students develop the understanding of the base-ten system of numeration needed for computation?
  • How do students develop adaptive expertise in solving single-digit, then multi-digit, computation problems?

The chapter outlines key supporting research and focuses on an array of computation strategies that teachers can convey to support “adaptive expertise” (the ability to apply meaningfully-learned procedures flexibly and creatively) and encourage the co-development of procedural and conceptual knowledge of operations.


Russell also authored “The Habit of Reasoning: Uncovering Competence through Focused Instruction”—a chapter in Models of Intervention in Mathematics: Reweaving the Tapestry (edited by Catherine Twomey Fosnot).

This chapter focuses on how teachers elicit what students who are struggling with core grade-level computation do understand, then build on that knowledge to develop their understanding further. Russell examines two cases from elementary classrooms in which teachers first find out what students know about an arithmetic operation, then select a key mathematical focus of study for those students—a focus that is fundamental to their growth in using mathematics with meaning. The teachers spend significant time working with the students on the key focus and engage them in meaningful practice that instills new habits of reasoning. The cases illustrate how conceptual and procedural knowledge are built together, with the procedures firmly grounded in understanding of the operations.

Both texts are available for purchase through the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.