Butterflies and moths in the Amazon: developing mathematical thinking through the rainforest

Hudson, Brian (2015) Butterflies and moths in the Amazon: developing mathematical thinking through the rainforest. Education et Didactique, 9 (2). pp. 119-133. ISSN 1956-3485

[img] Microsoft Word
Download (1MB)


This paper reports on a research study conducted with a group of practising primary school teachers (n=24) in North East Scotland during 2011-12. The teachers were all participants in a newly developed Masters course that had been designed within a didactical design research framework with the aim of promoting the development of mathematical thinking in the primary classroom as part of project supported by the Scottish Government. The paper presents the background for this initiative within the context of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence reform. It reports on the research design, research questions and methods of data collection of the research study related to the project as a whole. Further it explores the impact on pupil learning arising from the teachers’ experiences of this course and, in particular, from the process of classroom inquiry through their action research projects. The analysis of classroom interaction utilises a theoretical framework based on the concept of joint action in didactics. This framework is applied to the analysis of data from one teacher-researcher’s action research project based on the development of a topic-based approach to teaching and learning mathematics on the theme of “The Rainforest”. The findings from this study highlight the ways in which the children actively engaged in the ‘milieu’, the ways in which the teacher developed the ‘didactic game’ by extending the ‘epistemic games’ through the use of the open-ended topic-based approach combined with effective teacher questioning. They also highlight the ways in which the discursive elements of ‘learning games‘ as part of these lessons proved to be very effective means through which to support the children to engage in the milieu and to develop mathematical thinking. It was evident in this study that children had very differing prior knowledge and experiences to bring to the problem solving elements of the tasks and that, due to their ability to visualise the problems, the mathematics became more accessible leading to an evolution in mathematical thinking for all.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Mathematical Thinking; Primary Mathematics; Joint Action in Didactics; Comparative Didactics; Topic-based Approaches to Teaching Mathematics
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Brian Hudson
Date Deposited: 19 May 2015 05:48
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2016 10:29
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/54047

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update
Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Developing Mathematical Thinking in the Primary ClassroomUniversity of DundeeScottish GovernmentUnset