Senior Scientist

Maria  Blanton

Program/Areas of Interest

Mathematics Education

  • Children’s algebraic thinking
  • Building classroom practice to foster algebraic inquiry
  • Learning progressions in children’s mathematical thinking


Maria Blanton is a Senior Scientist at TERC in Cambridge, MA. Her primary research interests include teaching and learning algebra in the elementary grades. Her expertise has led to numerous federally-funded research projects and national and international presentations and publications (in, e.g., Journal for Research in Mathematics EducationMathematical Thinking and Learning, American Educational Research Journal, Educational Studies in MathematicsTeaching Children Mathematics). She is co-editor of the research volumes Algebra in the Early Grades (2008, Taylor/Francis) and Teaching and Learning Proof Across the Grades (2009, Routledge), author of Algebra and the Elementary Classroom: Transforming Thinking, Transforming Practice (2008, Heinemann), and co-author of Developing Essential Understanding of Algebraic Thinking for Teaching Mathematics in Grades 3–5 (2011, NCTM) and Teaching with Mathematical Argument: Strategies for Supporting Everyday Instruction (2018, Heinemann). She is also co-author of the Grades K–5 early algebra curriculum, LEAP: Learning through an Early Algebra Progression (Didax, 2020). She has served as Chair of the Editorial Panel for the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education and Chair of the Special Interest Group for Research in Mathematics Education (SIG-RME) of AERA. Dr. Blanton is currently PI of US DoE and NSF-funded projects investigating Grades K-5 children’s understanding of algebraic thinking and the impacts of sustained early algebra education on children’s algebra-readiness. She is the recipient of the 2020 International Award for Interdisciplinary Excellence in Mathematics Education, Texas A&M University for her research in children’s early algebraic thinking.


  • Ph.D., Mathematics Education, (Minor, Mathematics), North Carolina State University, 1998
  • M.A., Mathematics, University of North Carolina – Wilmington, 1991
  • B.A., Mathematics, Secondary Certification, University of North Carolina – Wilmington, 1989

Highlighted Publications

Blanton, M., Isler, I., Stroud, R., Stephens, A., Knuth, E., & Gardiner, A. (2019). Growth in children’s understanding of generalizing and representing mathematical structure and relationships. Educational Studies in Mathematics 102(2), 193–219, DOI:10.1007/s10649-019-09894-7

Blanton, M., Stroud, R., Stephens, A., Gardiner, A., Stylianou, D., Knuth, E., Isler-Baykal, I., Strachota, S. (2019). Does Early algebra matter?: The effectiveness of an early algebra intervention in grades 3–5. American Educational Research Journal.

Blanton, M., Otalora Sevilla, Y., Brizuela, B., Gardiner, A., Sawrey, K., & Gibbons, A. (2018). Exploring Kindergarten Students’ Early Understandings of the Equal Sign. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 20(3), 167–201, doi: 10.1080/10986065.2018.1474534