Learning styles and ways of representing and constructing ideas in K-6 mathematics

Year: 1994

Author: Lewis, Ed, Southwell, Beth, Relich, Joe

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Constructivist theories of mathematics learning suggest that learners personally negotiate meaning by creating different mental representations of mathematical knowledge. They may then progress towards relational understandings of mathematical ideas by making connections between the different modes of representation. Partnerships between concrete materials and computer software offer a way of enhancing the value of both approaches and have benefits in making learning more powerful by the integration of concrete, pictorial and symbolic modes of representation.

This paper outlines a classroom study involving the use of the computer in linking the different modes of representation of mathematical knowledge. Three groups of students were formed and were taught by methods which were predominantly either concrete, pictorial or symbolic in their style. The topics treated were decimal numeration and operations. Aspects of individual student learning style were also identified and utilised in the analysis of results to determine the efficacy of different teaching approaches and of matching individual learning styles with specific types of teaching.