Programming as a mediator of mathematical thinking

Examples from upper secondary students exploring the definite integral




collaborative learning, definite integral, languaging, programming, sociomathematical norms


We report on three episodes from a case study where upper secondary students numerically explore the definite integral in a Python environment. Our research questions concern how code can mediate and support students' mathematical thinking and what kind of sociomathematical norms emerge as students work together to reach a mutual understanding of a correct solution. The main findings of our investigation are as follows. 1) Students can actively use code as a mediator of their mathematical thinking, and code can even serve as a bridge that helps students to develop their mathematical thinking collaboratively. Further, code can help students to perceive mathematical notions as objects with various properties and to communicate about these properties, even in other semiotic systems than the mathematical language. 2) For the participating students, a common norm was that an acceptable solution is a sufficient condition for the correctness of the solution method although students were aware of a problem in their code, yet also other norms emerged. This demonstrates that learning mathematics with programming can have an effect on what kind of sociomathematical norms emerge in classroom.


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How to Cite

Tossavainen, T., Johansson, C., Juhlin, A., & Wedestig, A. (2024). Programming as a mediator of mathematical thinking: Examples from upper secondary students exploring the definite integral. LUMAT: International Journal on Math, Science and Technology Education, 12(3), 78–99.