What is CGI?

Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI)


CGI is a research-based framework of children’s thinking in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and thinking in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with single and multi-digit numbers, fractional thinking, and arithmetic and algebra.


CGI is a way of teaching mathematics that looks at how children solve problems on their own as a starting point. Instructional decisions are made based on getting to know a child’s way of thinking, what they can do all by themselves, and scaffolding the learning opportunities to build an understanding of mathematics. Students become intrinsically motivated and learn to challenge themselves while moving into higher levels of thinking and abstraction.


During CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction)

  1. Children solve problems in meaningful ways.
  2. Children are expected to communicate their mathematical thinking.
  3. Children are expected to explain and justify their solution strategies.
  4. Children are encouraged to recognize and use general mathematical principles.
  5. General mathematical principles are explicitly discussed.
  6. Children are encouraged to justify general mathematical principles.
  7. Children are engaged in meaningful mathematics and asked to explain their thinking.

Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI)… focuses on helping teachers construct explicit models of the development of children’s mathematical thinking in well-defined content domains. No instructional materials or specifications for practice are provided in CGI; teachers develop their own instructional materials and practices from watching and listening to their students solve problems. Although the program focuses on children’s mathematical thinking, teachers acquire knowledge of mathematics as they are learning about children’s thinking by analyzing structural features of the problems children solve and the mathematical principles underlying their solutions. A major thesis of CGI is that children bring to school informal or intuitive knowledge of mathematics that can serve as the basis for developing much of the formal mathematics of the primary school mathematics curriculum. The development of children’s mathematical thinking is portrayed as the progressive abstraction and formalization of children’s informal attempts to solve problems by constructing models of problem situations. (Center for Education National Research Council, 2001).