Senior Researcher

Susan Jo  Russell

Program/Areas of Interest

  • Teacher learning about mathematics and about students’ mathematical thinking 
  • Elementary students’ mathematical thinking 
  • Mathematical argument and early algebra in the elementary and middle grades 
  • Curriculum as a tool for professional development 
  • Curriculum as an anti-racist tool 
  • Weaving equity and mathematics in the elementary classroom 


Dr. Susan Jo Russell began her career in education as an elementary classroom teacher and math coach. She is a senior researcher at TERC where she co-directed the original development and second edition of Investigations in Number, Data and Space and the professional development series, Developing Mathematical Ideas. Her research has focused on children’s mathematical understanding and on how teachers can learn more about mathematics and about children’s mathematical thinking. Current work centers on weaving rigorous mathematics and equitable participation in the context of noticing, conjecturing, and representing properties and behaviors of the operations in elementary classrooms. Her recent co-authored book, But Why Does It Work?: Mathematical Argument in the Elementary Classroom is a resource for teachers who want to learn how to integrate mathematical argument into their instruction. 


  • BA Swarthmore College
  • MS Bank Street College of Education
  • CAGS Lesley College
  • EdD Boston University

Investigations 3 Blog Posts

Highlighted Publications

Russell, Susan Jo, & Schifter, Deborah. (September 2022). Learning to Weave Mathematics and Equity During Classroom Talk. Anaheim, CA: National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics Annual Meeting. 

Schifter, Deborah, & Russell, Susan Jo. The centrality of student-generated representation in investigating generalizations about the operations. ZDM Mathematics Education 54, 1289–1302 (2022). 

Higgins, Traci, Russell, Susan Jo, & Schifter, Deborah.  Student-generated conjecture about the behavior of the operations: Four dimensions supporting a structural understanding of arithmetic. Journal of Educational Research in Mathematics. Korean J. Opt. Photon. 2022;32:183200. 

Russell, Susan Jo. (March 2019) Who Can Do “Abstract” Mathematics? Mathematical Argument in an Urban Elementary School. San Diego, CA: National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics Annual Meeting.

Russell, Susan Jo, Schifter, Deborah, Kasman, Reva, Bastable, Virginia, and Higgins, Traci. (2017). But why does it work? Mathematical argument in the elementary classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Russell, Susan Jo. (April 2016). Productive lingering: Elementary students learn about the structure of the operations through representation-based argument. Oakland, CA: National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics Annual Meeting.

Russell, Susan Jo, Schifter, Deborah, & Bastable, Virginia (2011). Connecting arithmetic to algebra: Strategies for building algebraic thinking in the elementary grades. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Russell, Susan Jo, Schifter, Deborah, & Bastable, Virginia (2011). Developing algebraic thinking in the context of arithmetic. In J. Cai & E. Knuth (Eds.), The development of earlier algebraic thinking: Multiple perspectives. New York: Springer.