Towards a model for the analysis and description of mathematical knowledge and understanding

Nutchey, David John (2011) Towards a model for the analysis and description of mathematical knowledge and understanding. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Mathematics education literature has called for an abandonment of ontological and epistemological ideologies that have often divided theory-based practice. Instead, a consilience of theories has been sought which would leverage the strengths of each learning theory and so positively impact upon contemporary educational practice. This research activity is based upon Popper’s notion of three knowledge worlds which differentiates the knowledge shared in a community from the personal knowledge of the individual, and Bereiter’s characterisation of understanding as the individual’s relationship to tool-like knowledge. Using these notions, a re-conceptualisation of knowledge and understanding and a subsequent re-consideration of learning theories are proposed as a way to address the challenge set by literature. Referred to as the alternative theoretical framework, the proposed theory accounts for the scaffolded transformation of each individual’s unique understanding, whilst acknowledging the existence of a body of domain knowledge shared amongst participants in a scientific community of practice. The alternative theoretical framework is embodied within an operational model that is accompanied by a visual nomenclature with which to describe consensually developed shared knowledge and personal understanding. This research activity has sought to iteratively evaluate this proposed theory through the practical application of the operational model and visual nomenclature to the domain of early-number counting, addition and subtraction. This domain of mathematical knowledge has been comprehensively analysed and described. Through this process, the viability of the proposed theory as a tool with which to discuss and thus improve the knowledge and understanding with the domain of mathematics has been validated. Putting of the proposed theory into practice has lead to the theory’s refinement and the subsequent achievement of a solid theoretical base for the future development of educational tools to support teaching and learning practice, including computer-mediated learning environments. Such future activity, using the proposed theory, will advance contemporary mathematics educational practice by bringing together the strengths of cognitivist, constructivist and post-constructivist learning theories.

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ID Code: 41775
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Nason, Rodney & Kidman, Gillian
Additional Information: Recipient of 2011 Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award
Keywords: assessment, computer mediated learning, consilience, constructivism, early-number, innovation, knowledge, mathematics, modelling, objectivism, understanding, ODTA
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 23 May 2011 06:27
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2013 05:00

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