Bridging the macro- and micro-divide: using an activity theory model to capture sociocultural complexity in mathematics teaching and its development



This paper is methodologically based, addressing the study of mathematics teaching by linking micro- and macro-perspectives. Considering teaching as activity, it uses Activity Theory and, in particular, the Expanded Mediational Triangle (EMT) to consider the role of the broader social frame in which classroom teaching is situated. Theoretical and methodological approaches are illustrated through episodes from a study of the mathematics teaching and learning in a Year-10 class in a UK secondary school where students were considered as “lower achievers” in their year group. We show how a number of questions about mathematics teaching and learning emerging from microanalysis were investigated by the use of the EMT. This framework provided a way to address complexity in the activity of teaching and its development based on recognition of central social factors in mathematics teaching–learning.


Mathematics teaching Teaching as activity Activity theory Expanded meditational triangle Macroanalysis Microanalysis Teaching triad 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mathematics Education CentreLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  2. 2.University of AthensAthensGreece

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