Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education

2020 Edition
| Editors: Stephen Lerman

Activity Theory in Mathematics Education

  • Wolff-Michael RothEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-15789-0_4


Activity theory is the result of an attempt to construct a psychology that draws on and concretely implements epistemological principles of materialist dialectics as K. Marx presented them (Leont’ev 1978; Vygotsky 1997). Like Marx’s Das Kapital, activity theory is intended to explain change, learning, and development as an immanent feature of a system rather than in terms of externally produced cause-effect relations.

History of Activity Theory

L. S. Vygotsky generally is recognized as the founding father of activity theory because he introduced the idea of tool-mediated activity as a way of overcoming on-going psychological ideas consistent with stimulus–response or disembodied thinking approaches to cognition. Responding to the crisis of psychology, he explicitly stated the need for developing a Marxist psychology. Expanding on Vygotsky’s work, A. N. Leont’ev articulated what is now known as second-generation cultural-historical activity theory in his Activity,...


Vygotsky Leont’ev Dialectics Consciousness Personality Change 
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Applied Cognitive ScienceUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Yoshinori Shimizu
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TsukubaGraduate School of Comprehensive Human ScienceTsukuba-shiJapan