Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education

2020 Edition
| Editors: Stephen Lerman

Discursive Approaches to Learning Mathematics

  • Anna SfardEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-15789-0_52


Discursive approach to learning is a research framework grounded in the view that learning such subjects as mathematics, physics, or history is a communicational activity and should be studied as such. Learning scientists who adopt this approach treat discourse and its development as the primary object of exploration rather than as mere means to the study of something else (e.g., development of mental schemes). The term discourse is to be understood here as referring to a well-defined type of multimodal (not just verbal) communicational activity, which does not have to be audible or synchronous.


Ever since human learning became an object of systematic study, researchers have been aware of its intimate relationship with language and, more generally, with the activity of communicating. The basic agreement on the importance of discourse notwithstanding, a range of widely differing opinions have been proposed regarding the way these two activities, learning and...


Learning Mathematics Communication Discourse Language 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics EducationUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael