Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 70, Issue 2, pp 159–174 | Cite as

Mathematical imagination and embodied cognition

  • Ricardo Nemirovsky
  • Francesca Ferrara


The goal of this paper is to explore qualities of mathematical imagination in light of a classroom episode. It is based on the analysis of a classroom interaction in a high school Algebra class. We examine a sequence of nine utterances enacted by one of the students whom we call Carlene. Through these utterances Carlene illustrates, in our view, two phenomena: (1) juxtaposing displacements, and (2) articulating necessary cases. The discussion elaborates on the significance of these phenomena and draws relationships with the perspectives of embodied cognition and intersubjectivity.


Mathematical imagination Embodied cognition Gesture Tool use Trigonometry 



This research has been supported by the Math in Motion project (NSF REC-0087573). Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. We would like to thank the students in Mr. Barros’s class for all that they have taught us. We would also like to thank the members of the “Math in Motion” group, Djalita Oliveira-Ramos for her help in translating and analyzing the data for this paper, and Laurie Edwards for her feedback on a previous version. We extend our acknowledgements to three anonymous reviewers and Luis Radford for their invaluable feedback


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education (CRMSE)San DiegoUSA
  3. 3.Dipartimento di MatematicaUniversità di TorinoTurinItaly

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