The Reification of Mathematical Notions in Mathematics Education: A Four-stage Model of Concept Development

By Levis Zerpa.

Published by The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 21, 2016 $US5.00

A four-stage model of mathematical concept development is proposed in this article. The model is based on a distinction between a weak and a strong sense of reification in mathematics education. More specifically, the learner’s language is reconstructed according to a distinction between the reification of functions, sets, and other mathematical concepts in terms of “constants” and the reification of those concepts in terms of “bound variables.” The model is based on a detailed discussion of the traditional theory of reification, mainly due to Anna Sfard and her collaborators, as well as empirical data concerning the main difficulties experienced by students with the concepts of function and set. Furthermore, some remarkable episodes from the history of the concept of function in the twentieth century (including Schönfinkel’s approach to functions) are examined from the perspective of the model. An example of reification of procedures in programming languages is also considered.

Keywords: Mathematics, Mathematics Pedagogies, Logic and Mathematics Education, Epistemology of Mathematics

The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning, Volume 24, Issue 1, March 2017, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 21, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 577.984KB)).

Dr. Levis Zerpa

Instructor and Researcher, School of Social Sciences, Yachay Tech, San Miguel de Urcuquí, Imbabura, Ecuador