n Pythagoras - Making mathematical meaning : from preconcepts to pseudoconcepts to concepts

Volume 2006, Issue 63
  • ISSN : 1012-2346
  • E-ISSN: 2223-7895


I argue that Vygotsky's theory of concept formation (1934/1986) is a powerful framework within which to explore how an individual at university level constructs a new mathematical concept. In particular I argue that this theory can be used to explain how idiosyncratic usages of mathematical signs by students (particularly when just introduced to a new mathematical object) get transformed into mathematically acceptable and personally meaningful usages. Related to this, I argue that this theory is able to bridge the divide between an individual's mathematical knowledge and the body of socially sanctioned mathematical knowledge. I also demonstrate an application of the theory to an analysis of a student's activities with a 'new' mathematical object.

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