A Journey in Mathematics Education Research pp 85-105 | Cite as

# Learning from Distributed Theories of Intelligence

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## Abstract

The analysis reported in this article is grounded in the practice of classroom-based developmental or transformational research and focuses on the distributed views of intelligence developed by Pea (1993) and by Hutchins (1995). The general areas of agreement with this theoretical perspective include both the nondualist orientation and the critical role attributed to tool use. Against this background, I focus on two aspects of the distributed view that I and my colleagues have found necessary to modify for our purposes. The first concerns the legitimacy of taking the individual as the unit of analysis, and here I argue that the distributed view implicitly accepts key tenets of mainstream American psychology’s characterization of the individual even as it explicitly rejects it. The second modification concerns distributed intelligence’s characterization of tool use. Drawing on a distinction made by Dewey, I argue that it is more useful for the purposes of instructional design to focus on activity that involves using the tool as an instrument, rather than focusing on the tool itself.

## Keywords

Realistic Mathematics Education (RME) design theory Distributed theories of intelligence Semiotic mediation Tool use Classroom-based instructional design heuristics Communal classroom practices## Notes

### Acknowledgments

The analysis reported in this article was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant RED-9353587 and by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement under Grant R305A60007. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of either the Foundation or of OERI.

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