Publication 5284

Cobb P., Wood T. & Yackel E. (1991) A constructivist approach to second grade mathematics. In: Glasersfeld E. (ed.) Radical constructivism in mathematics education. Kluwer, Dordrecht: 157–176. Fulltext at
Our overall objective in this paper is to share a few observations made and insights gained while conducting a recently completed teaching experiment. The experiment had a strong pragmatic emphasis in that we were responsible for the mathematics instruction of a second grade class (7 year-olds) for the entire school year. Thus, we had to accommodate a variety of institutionalized constraints. As an example, we agreed to address all of the school corporation’s objectives for second grade mathematics instruction. In addition, we were well aware that the school corporation administrators evaluated the project primarily in terms of mean gains on standardized achievement tests. Further, we had to be sensitive to parents’ concerns, particularly as their children’s participation in the project was entirely voluntary. Not surprising, these constraints profoundly influenced the ways in which we attempted to translate constructivism as a theory of knowing into practice. We were fortunate in that the classroom teacher, who had taught second grade mathematics “straight by the book” for the previous sixteen years, was a member of the project staff. Her practical wisdom and insights proved to be invaluable.

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