The influence of theoretical mathematical foundations on teaching and learning: a case study of whole numbers in elementary school

Abstract : This paper examines the existence and impact of theoretical mathematical foundations on the teaching and learning of whole numbers in elementary school in France. It shows that the study of the New Math reform –which was eventually itself replaced in the longer term – provides some keys to understanding the influence of mathematical theories on teaching and learning. The paper studies changes related to place value, a notion that was deeply impacted by the introduction of numeration bases other than ten in 1970, and their subsequent removal in the 1980s. What the author terms ‘numeration units’ (ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, etc.) and ‘powers-of-ten written in figures’ (1, 10, 100, 1000, etc.) are key tools for describing and understanding changes. The author identifies two theories that have formed the basis for place value teaching in the 20th century, and examines some aspects of their influence. The paper also addresses epistemological issues in the relation between academic mathematics and school mathematics, and highlights the role of units in the teaching of basic arithmetic.
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Christine Chambris. The influence of theoretical mathematical foundations on teaching and learning: a case study of whole numbers in elementary school. Educational Studies in Mathematics, Springer Verlag, 2018, 97 (2), pp.185-207. ⟨https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10649-017-9790-3⟩. ⟨10.1007/s10649-017-9790-3⟩. ⟨hal-02270063⟩

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