NSCPHD1248 Educational design in mathematics and science: The collective aspect

Volume 2015/2016

Phd-studies in Didactics of Mathematics and Science, including informal learning environment studies


Collaboration is at the heart of didactic phenomena related to mathematics and science. Trivially, didactic situations always include a multiplicity of participants whose interaction is crucial to the outcome in terms of (changed, increased) knowledge among at least some of the participants. Less evident - but highly focused on in recent research - is the role of collaboratiin in  the planning of teaching sequences or exercises, the conception of exhibitions, textbooks, and other educational materials. Even when, for example, a teacher plans a lesson, she draws on ressources produced by a professional collective which she may participate in at various levels (Winsløw, 2010). Such collectives, understood as groups of actors who work together to achieve common didactic objectives, may be expanded by – and sometimes simply include – researchers in various fields, whose influence on the didactic phenomena is sometimes deliberate (e.g. in design experiments or action research) but should always be monitored. Other larger systems, including institutions and companies comprise larger groups that call for a broader didactic understanding with anthropological (Chevallard, 2002) and sociological (Douglas, 1986) perspectives. It is important to note that the collective aspect of didactics can be understood only through these systems that lie behind it and what these systems produce (professional knowledge, educational materials, resources, etc.).

Studying the collective aspect of education is not new in the didactics of mathematics; indeed, a paradigmatic example is the idea of ​​‘didactic system’ (Brousseau, 1997/2002) consisting of persons engaged in the study of mathematical knowledge: teachers, students, and researchers. In more recent years, new technological developments have caused new learning phenomena to appear, e.g. online teachers’ associations, massive open online courses (MOOCs), or new ways of participating and communicating through digital media; such phenomena constitute variations of didactic systems and corresponding collectives and have been researched as such (Pepin et al., 2013). The collective aspect has also more recently been brought to bear in other contexts, i.e. research on the interplay and negotiations between exhibition developers (Lindauer, 2005; Macdonald, 2002; Roberts, 1997) or on the interactions between researchers and exhibition developers (Stuedahl & Smørdal, 2012).

In this course we will consider theoretical issues of addressing collective aspects of didactic phenomena, including the various conceptualizations of what constitutes a ‘collective’, the positions with the collective under investigation, its genesis, and the implications of this for didactical research. Methodological challenges will also be considered explicitly in these contexts. This course will merge, for the first time, research perspectives on collective aspects of education from mathematics and science in both in-school and out-of-school contexts, providing participants with updates on the latest international research and identifying avenues for future investigations.

References: See "Undervisningsmateriale"

Learning Outcome

The students should develop their own research projects to include the collective dimension of didatical design, while mobilising the theoretical tools presented in the course session and its literature (and outlined above).

Brousseau, G. (1997/2002). Theory of didactical situations in mathematics. New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Chevallard, Y. (2002). Ecologie et régulation. In J.-L. Dorier, M. Artaud, M. Artigue, R. Berthelot, & R. Floris (dir.), Actes de la XIe Ecole d’été de didactique des mathématiques (pp. 41-56). Grenoble: La pensée sauvage.

Douglas, M. (1986). How Institutions think. Syracuse U. Press.

Lindauer, M. A. (2005). From salad bars to vivid stories: four game plans for developing 'educationally successful' exhibitions. Museum Management and Curatorship, 20(1), 41-55.

Macdonald, S. (2002). Behind the scenes at the science museum. Oxford: Berg.

Roberts, L. C. (1997). From knowledge to narrative: educators and the changing museum. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Winsløw, C. (2010). Produire l'enseignement: entre individuel et collectif. In G. Gueudet & L. Trouche (Eds), Ressources vives, Le travail documentaire des professeurs en mathématiques pp. 111-128. Rennes : Presses Universitaires de Rennes.

Stuedahl, D., & Smørdal, O. (2012). Experimental zones – spaces for new forms of participation in museum exhibition development. In E. Kristiansen (Ed.), Proceedings of the DREAM conference: The Transformative Museum (pp. 375-387). Roskilde: DREAM.

Active Ph.D.-student in didactics of mathematics, didactics of science or the informal science education.
Master in Science, Mathematics, Science Education or Mathematics Education
Seminars, lectures, individual and groupwise supervision, on line supervision.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exercises
  • 20
  • Guidance
  • 5
  • Lectures
  • 10
  • Practical exercises
  • 6
  • Preparation
  • 60
  • Project work
  • 40
  • Total
  • 141
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Exam registration requirements

Submission of 5 page synopsis prior to main course session
Participation in main course session

All aids allowed
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

December 2015



Criteria for exam assesment

Scientific quality of the paper and deep relations to the course contents.