Concept Mapping as a Means to Develop and Assess Conceptual Understanding in Primary Mathematics Teacher Education


Psychologists such as Vygotsky and Skemp indicate that as a superordinate concept the understanding of positional system requires knowledge of several bases for its adequate development. However, current elementary mathematics curricula fail to adequately develop the concept of positional system, attempting instead to teach operations in base ten in isolation. This paper exhibits the power of concept mapping to reveal to teachers the centrality of this concept in elementary mathematics. The map presented here, constructed by Maryanne, a pre-service teacher, also features the pedagogical content knowledge required to successfully teach the concept of positional system and the other mathematics concepts to which it is related. Maryanne’s pedagogical treatment is neither simplistic nor reductionist, but reveals the conceptual essence of the concepts in question and the complexity of their relationships within elementary mathematics when taught as a conceptual system.


Pedagogical Content Knowledge Positional System Elementary Mathematics Multiple Basis Decimal System 



Our special thanks to the pre-service student who graciously provided the concept map discussed in this chapter.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State University of New York at BinghamtonBinghamtonUSA

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