The Constructivist Researcher as Teacher and Model Builder

  • Paul CobbEmail author
  • Leslie P. Steffe
Part of the Mathematics Education Library book series (MELI, volume 48)


The constructivist teaching experiment is used in formulating explanations of children’s mathematical behavior. Essentially, a teaching experiment consists of a series of teaching episodes and individual interviews that covers an extended period of time—anywhere from 6 weeks to 2 years. The explanations we formulate consist of models—constellations of theoretical constructs—that represent our understanding of children’s mathematical realities. However, the models must be distinguished from what might go on in children’s heads. They are formulated in the context of intensive interactions with children. Our emphasis on the researcher as teacher stems from our view that children’s construction of mathematical knowledge is greatly influenced by the experience they gain through interaction with their teacher. Although some of the researchers might not teach, all must act as model builders to ensure that the models reflect the teacher’s understanding of the children.


Constructivist teaching experiment Model building Clinical interview Teaching episode Counting scheme Teacher as researcher 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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