Douglas Clements

Professional Title
SUNY Distinguished Professor
About Me (Bio)
Douglas H. Clements is SUNY Distinguished Professor of early childhood, mathematics, and computer education at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Previously a kindergarten teacher for five years and a preschool teacher for one year, he has conducted research and published widely in the areas of the learning and teaching of early mathematics and computer applications in mathematics education. His most recent interests are in creating, using, and evaluating a research-based curriculum and in taking successful curricula to scale using technologies and learning trajectories. He has published over 100 refereed research studies, 8 books, 50 chapters, and 250 additional publications. His latest books detail research-based learning trajectories in early mathematics education: Early childhood mathematics education research: Learning trajectories for young children and a companion book, Learning and teaching early math: The learning trajectories approach (Routledge).

Dr. Clements was a member of President Bush's National Math Advisory Panel, convened to advise the administration on the best use of scientifically based research to advance the teaching and learning of mathematics, and coauthor of the Panel’s report. He was also a member of the National Research Council’s Committee on Early Mathematics and co-author of their report. He is presently serving on the Common Core committee of the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, helping to write national academic standards.

Currently, Dr. Clements is Principal Investigator on two large-scale research projects. The first, Increasing the efficacy of an early mathematics curriculum with scaffolding designed to promote self-regulation is a $3,000,000 award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to evaluate whether self-regulation and mathematics instruction can be combined synergistically. The second, Scaling Up TRIAD: Teaching Early Mathematics for Understanding with Trajectories and Technologies is also funded by IES ( as part of the IERI program—Interagency Educational Research Initiative, a federal partnership of the IES, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development NICHD, and the National Science Foundation, NSF). This had its roots in a previous IERI project he directed, Scaling Up the Implementation of a Pre-Kindergarten Mathematics Curricula: Teaching for Understanding with Trajectories and Technologies, an IERI project funded by the NSF.

Two recent research projects have just been funded by the NSF. Clements is PI on the first, Using Rule Space and Poset-based Adaptive Testing Methodologies to Identify Ability Patterns in Early Mathematics and Create a Comprehensive Mathematics Ability Test, which will develop a computer-adaptive assessment for early mathematics. Clements is co-PI on the second, Early Childhood Education in the Context of Mathematics, Science, and Literacy, developing an interdisciplinary preschool curriculum.

Previously, Dr. Clements directed several other IES and NSF projects. In Building Blocks—Foundations for Mathematical Thinking, Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 2: Research-based Materials Development (, he and Julie Sarama developed mathematics software and activities, published by SRA/McGraw-Hill. The second product is a component of the research-based mathematics series Real Math, in which the Building Blocks materials will constitute the complete PreK program, and Building Blocks software will supplement all other grades, K-6. He also ran an historic, national Conference on Standards for Preschool and Kindergarten Mathematics Education (co-funded by NSF and ExxonMobil Foundation,, which resulted in a book, Clements, D. H., Sarama, J., & DiBiase, A.-M. (Eds.). (2004). Engaging young children in mathematics: Standards for early childhood mathematics education. In addition, based on the conference, he proposed and chaired a joint committee that produced a joint National Association for the Education of Young children and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) position statement on early childhood mathematics, Early childhood mathematics: Promoting good beginnings. A joint position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

In previous projects, he co-developed an elementary geometry curriculum based on Logo, Logo Geometry, published by Silver Burdett & Ginn. In a related NSF research project, he conducted research on the teaching and learning of geometry with and without computers resulting in Logo and Geometry, a Journal for Research in Mathematics Education monograph. He also completed two addition NSF projects with several colleagues. The first developed a K-5 mathematics curriculum, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space (published by Dale Seymour Publications). In that context, he has developed several constructivist-oriented software packages (with he and colleague Julie Sarama performing all the design, programming, and implementation), including their own version of Logo and Logo-based software activities to complement the curriculum (this software environment was also published as a stand-alone product, including activities that integrate Logo into the geometry curriculum, under the name Turtle Math™, which was awarded Technology & Learning Software of the Year award, 1995, in the category "Math"), a computer-based manipulative software environment (Shapes) and several others (Trips, Tumbling Tetrominoes). He was co-PI on “A Longitudinal study of the Effects of a Pre-Kindergarten Mathematics Curriculum on Low-Income Children’s Mathematical Knowledge,” funded by IES.

Dr. Clements is active in the NCTM, coauthored NCTM's Principals and Standards for School Mathematics and the 2006 Curriculum focal points for prekindergarten through grade 8 mathematics: A quest for coherence, and was editor and author of the NCTM Addenda (to the Standards) materials. He was chair of the Editorial Panel of NCTM's research journal, the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education.
University of Michigan (UM), University of Denver (DU)

This project designs materials and an accompanying support system to enable the development of expertise in the teaching of mathematics at the elementary level. The project has four main components: online professional development modules; practice-based assessments; resources for facilitators; and web-based technologies to deliver module content to diverse settings. Three modules are being developed and focus on fractions, reasoning and explanation, and geometry. Each module is organized into ten 1.5 hour sessions.

University of Denver (DU)

The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of the Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2) program with the goal of improving mathematics teaching and thereby increasing young students' math learning. LT2 is a professional development tool and a curriculum resource intended for teachers to be used to support early math instruction and includes the mathematical learning goal, the developmental progression, and relevant instructional activities.

Illinois State University (ISU)

This project is studying measurement practices from pre-K to Grade 8, as a coordination of the STEM disciplines of mathematics and science. This research project tests, revises and extends learning trajectories for children's knowledge of geometric measurement across a ten-year span of human development. The goal will be to validate all components of each learning trajectory, goal, developmental progression, and instruction tasks, as well as revising each LT to reflect the outcomes of the experiments.

University of Denver (DU)

This project will build an interactive and integrated curricular and professional development technological system: the Building Blocks Toolset (BBToolset). The BBToolset is designed to benefit all early childhood educators and their students. Young children will learn from engaging, effective digital educational games and face-to-face activities. Teachers will receive just-in-time professional development related to their students' development and guidance on curricular choices and culturally sensitive pedagogical strategies.

University of Denver (DU)

This project will develop a new assessment for children ages 3-7 to provide teachers with diagnostic information on a child's development of mathematics facility on ten domains such as counting, sequencing, adding/subtracting, and measurement. The Comprehensive Research-based Mathematics Ability (CREMAT) is being developed using innovative psychometric models to reveal information about children on specific attributes for each of the 10 domains.