Nancy C. Jordan is Dean Family Endowed Chair and Professor specializing in Learning Sciences at the University of Delaware. Her research focuses on how children learn math and why so many struggle. Professor Jordan has received numerous grants, including from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the National Science Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation.
Professor Jordan recently served as Chair of the governing board of the international Mathematical Cognition and Learning Society. She also served on the Committee on Early Childhood Mathematics of the National Research Council and as an expert panel member on the U.S. Department of Education Practice Guides on teaching math to young children and on providing interventions for students with math disabilities. She is a member of the National Academy of Education and a fellow of the American Education Research Association and the Association for Psychological Science.
Professor Jordan is dedicated to disseminating her work to a wide audience, including researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. She translates her foundational research to improve educational practice, especially for those with learning disabilities and limited educational opportunities in STEM. She has developed successful interventions and screening tools for high-risk children, including the widely used Number Sense Interventions and the Screener for Early Number Sense.
Industry Expertise (2)
Areas of Expertise (6)
Number Sense Interventions
Screener for Early Number Sense
Media Appearances (3)
Excellence in education scholarship | UDaily
University of Delaware online
Nancy C. Jordan, the Dean Family Endowed Chair of Education and professor in the University of Delaware’s (UD) College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), helps these young students develop early number sense and fractions understanding through research grounded in the science of how children learn. In partnership with colleagues at UD and other universities, she has not only identified predictors of mathematical growth and achievement, but translated her findings into practical, evidence-based curricula, interventions and assessments for elementary and middle school teachers.
Helping children learn math | UDaily
University of Delaware online
“Early misunderstandings cascade into more severe math weaknesses in later grades, especially when instruction shifts abruptly from whole numbers to fractions,” said Nancy Jordan, Dean Family Endowed Chair of Education and professor in the School of Education (SOE) at the University of Delaware.
Study: IES-funded research improves quality of math education
Vanderbilt University online
Rittle-Johnson, professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development, and Nancy C. Jordan, professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware, evaluated the impact of more than 200 peer-reviewed IES-funded studies by 69 authors (2002–2013).
Estimating the co-development of executive functions and math achievement throughout the elementary grades using a cross-lagged panel model with fixed effectsContemporary Educational Psychology
2023 Executive functioning (EF) is associated with children’s math skill development, both concurrently and longitudinally. However, it is not known how components of EF might be related to mathematics skills and vice versa over the course of elementary school. The present study addresses this issue by investigating relations between math achievement and two key components of EF -- working memory (WM) and cognitive flexibility (CF) -- from kindergarten to 5th grade, using the large-scale nationally representative dataset (N = 18,174) from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten (ECLS-K: 2011).
Core foundations of early mathematics: Refining the number sense frameworkCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
2022 Highlights Preschool number sense is foundational to mathematics learning. Number sense involves knowledge of number, number relations, and number operations. Level of representation and set size affect number sense across the 3 strands. There are substantial individual differences in preschoolers' number sense.
A fraction sense intervention for sixth graders with or at risk for mathematics difficultiesRemedial and Special Education
2020 The efficacy of a research-based fraction sense intervention for sixth graders with or at risk for mathematics difficulties (N = 52) was examined. The intervention aimed to build understanding of fraction magnitudes on the number line. Key concepts were taught with a narrow range of denominators to develop deep understanding. The intervention was centered on a visual number line in the meaningful context of a color run race. Students were randomly assigned to the fraction sense intervention (n = 25) or a business-as-usual control group (n = 27). Students in the intervention condition received 21 lessons in small groups (45 min each) during their regular mathematics intervention period.
Predicting mathematics achievement from subdomains of early number competence: Differences by grade and achievement levelJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
2022 This study investigated the relative importance of three subdomains of early number competence (number, number relations, and number operations) in predicting later mathematics achievement in cross-sequential samples of pre-kindergarten (pre-K), kindergarten, and first-grade children (n = 150 at each grade). Ordinary least-squares (OLS) regression analyses showed that each subdomain predicted mathematics achievement at each grade level, controlling for the other two subdomains as well as background variables. All the subdomains explained a significant amount of variance in later mathematics achievement.
Improving fraction understanding in sixth graders with mathematics difficulties: Effects of a number line approach combined with cognitive learning strategiesJournal of Educational Psychology
2020 The effectiveness of an experimental middle school fraction intervention was evaluated. The intervention was centered on the number line and incorporated key principles from the science of learning. Sixth graders (N= 51) who struggled with fraction concepts were randomly assigned at the student level to the experimental intervention (n= 28) or to a business-as-usual control who received their school’s intervention (n= 23). The experimental intervention occurred over 6 weeks (27 lessons). Fraction number line estimation, magnitude comparisons, concepts, and arithmetic were assessed at pretest, posttest, and delayed posttest.
Research Grants (5)
Examining the Efficacy of a Fraction Sense Intervention Grounded in Principles from the Science of Learning (R324A200140)
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. $3,299,957
Principal Investigator (with Nancy Dyson and Henry May) 2020 – 2025
Paving the Way for Fractions: Exploring Foundational Concepts in First Grade
National Science Foundation. Principal Investigator (with Nora Newcombe) $1,725,620
2020 – 2024
Developing a Fraction Sense Intervention for Students with or at Risk for Mathematics Difficulties (R324A160127)
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences $1,499,997
Principal Investigator (with Nancy Dyson) 2016 – 2020
Improving Understanding of Fractions among Students with Mathematical Learning Difficulties (R324C10004). Special Education Research and Development Center
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences.
Principal Investigator (with Lynn Fuchs and Robert Siegler) 2010 – 2015
Refining and Extending a Number Sense Screener for Identifying Children at Risk for Mathematical Difficulties in School (R305A150545)
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences $1,598,792
Principal Investigator (with Alice Klein) 2015 – 2019
American Educational Research Association (AERA) Fellow (professional)
Harvard University: EdD
Northwestern University: MAT
University of Iowa: BA
- Member, National Academy of Education (2022)
- Distinguished Researcher Award, AERA Special and Inclusive Education Special Interest Group (2022)
- Fellow, American Educational Research Association (2020)
- Kauffman-Hallahan-Pullin Distinguished Researcher Award. Division for Research, Council for Exceptional Children (2020)
- Fellow, Association for Psychological Science (2017)