Welcome to the MU Math Study page. Researchers at our lab have been conducting research on learning, cognition, and mathematics skills since 1990. We study questions like "What makes learning math harder for some children than others?" and "What are the critical skills that predict success in high school algebra?"

Our goal is to better understand how children learn mathematics and why some students have difficulties with this learning. We have been focusing in particular on how children represent, process, and understand key aspects of mathematics, ranging from counting to Arabic numerals to algebraic equations, and on the underlying cognitive systems (e.g., working memory) that support this learning. We are collaborating with colleagues at Stanford University School of Medicine to better understand the systems of brain regions involved in learning mathematics and colleagues at Vanderbilt University to assess the efficacy of interventions designed to address learning difficulties. Our current project is a longitudinal study looking at preschool children’s numeracy from a multisystemic perspective. Data collected will be used to design focused, effective interventions to prepare preschool children for formal math instruction upon Kindergarten entry. Past MU Math Study projects include a 10-year study following the math skills of participants from Kindergarten through their 9th grade, Preschool Math Study following children from age 3 through First Grade, and our more recent Algebra Study assessing pre-algebra skills from 6th-9th grades.

Current Project

The planning and funding efforts for our newest large project have been underway for two years. August 2022 we received funding from the National Institutes of Health and officially launched the MU Preschool Math Study. We will be working with 3- and 4-year-old children and their families using a multisystemic approach, examining numeracy in the home as well as in school.  We will follow the development of numeracy over the two years of preschool. Data collected in this study will be used to design multisystemic interventions for preschool children at risk for difficulties with learning math. Fostering early numerical learning prepares children to benefit from formal math instruction upon Kindergarten entry. This project is directed by Dr. David Geary, Curators’ Professor in the MU Department of Psychological Sciences, in collaboration with co-investigators Dr. Sara Gable, Director of the Institute of Public Policy  in the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, Dr. Jordan Booker, Professor in the MU Department of Psychological Sciences, and Dr. Jessica Rodrigues, Department of Special Education.