Senior Researcher

Traci Higgins

Program/Areas of Interest

  • Mathematical learning
  • Data literacy
  • Interdisciplinary reasoning
  • Professional development
  • Curriculum development
  • Mixed methods research


Dr. Traci Higgins is a senior researcher in STEM education at TERC. She has over 20 years experience conducting research and developing educational materials, processes, and models to support STEM learning and teaching both in school and out-of-school, focusing on K-8 mathematics, data science K-12+, and interdisciplinary reasoning. Her work includes co-developing out-of-school curricula to introduce adolescents to data science using multivariate real-word data and studying how youth use technology to visualize and explore data. Currently, she directs the Civic Data Project which collaboratively works with middle school social studies teachers to develop activities to support investigations of civic data driven by students’ own questions. She also co-directs a project that examines how undergraduate teams leverage interdisciplinary knowledge in their work with complex real-world data during DataFest, an open-ended, weekend-long, hackathon-style challenge. She works from a student-centered, inquiry-oriented, culturally responsive stance, embracing the assets of learner diversity.

When not working, Traci plays basketball, hikes, bicycles, raises heritage chickens, gardens, hunts mushrooms, cooks with wild edibles, reads voraciously, and volunteers with several community organizations.


  • Ph.D. (Cognitive Psychology) Clark University, Worcester, MA, 1998
  • M.A. (Psychology) Clark University, Worcester, MA, 1994
  • B.A. (Psychology) Bates College, 1991

Highlighted Publications

Higgins, T., Mokros, J., Rubin, A., Sagrans, J. (2023). Students’ approaches to exploring the relationship between categorical variables. Teaching Statistics, 45(S1), S52-S66. URL:

Higgins, T., Russell, S., & Schifter, D. (2022). Student-generated conjecture about the behavior of the operations: Four dimensions supporting a structural understanding of arithmetic. Journal of Educational Research in Mathematics , 32(3): 183-200.

Sussman, A., Hammerman, J.K.L., Higgins, T, and Hochberg, E.D. (2019). Questions to elicit students’ mathematical ideas. Teaching Children Mathematics, 25(5), 306-312.

Russell, S.J.; Schifter, D.; Kasman, R.; Bastable, V.; Higgins, T. (2017) But Why Does It Work? Mathematical Argument in the Elementary Classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Konold, C., Higgins, T., Russell, S.J., & Khalil, K. (2015). Data Seen Through Different Lenses. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 88(3): 305-325. URL:

Konold, C. & Higgins, T. L. (2003). Reasoning about data. In J. Kilpatrick, W.G. Martin, & D. Schifter (Eds.), A Research Companion to Prinicipals and Standards for School Mathematics (pp. 193-215). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.