Publication 6868

Cobb P., Perlwitz M. & Underwood D. (1996) Constructivism and activity theory: A consideration of their similarities and differences as they relate to mathematics education. In: Mansfield H., Patemen N. & Bednarz N. (eds.) Mathematics for tomorrow’s young children: International perspectives on curriculum. Kluwer, Dordrecht: 10–56. Fulltext at
The primary purpose of this chapter is to clarify the basic tenets of activity theory and constructivism, and to compare and contras instructional approaches developed within these global theoretical perspectives. This issue is worthy of discussion in that research and development programs derived from these two perspectives are both vigorous. For example, the work of sociocultural theorists conducted within the activity theory tradition has become increasingly influential in the United States in recent years. One paradigmatic group of studies conducted by Lave (1988), Newman, Griffin, and Cole (1089). and Scribner (1984) has related arithmetical computation to more encompassing social activities such as shopping in a supermarket, packing crates in a dairy, and completing worksheets in school. Taken together, these analyses demonstrate powerfully the need to consider broader social and cultural processes when accounting for children’s development of mathematic cal competeuce.

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