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Making connections to prior learning and experience

To make sense of a new concept or skill, students need to be able to integrate new learning to their existing mathematical and statistical understandings in a variety of ways.

Examples of actions that teachers can take to make connections to prior learning and experiences:

  • using the P-K theory teaching model – using imaging to link materials and generalisations
  • checking prior knowledge using a variety of diagnostic strategies
  • encouraging students to write stories for mathematical models
  • providing learning experiences which develop relational understanding (Skemp, 1976) of mathematics and statistics
  • providing real-life problems in which the context is relevant to the student.

Specific activities

Further information

  • Anthony, G., & Walshaw, M. (2009). Making connections. Effective pedagogy in mathematics. (PDF 320KB) (pp. 15-16). Belley: Gonnet Imprimeur.
  • Pirie, S., & Kieren, T. (1989). A recursive theory of mathematical understanding. For the Learning of Mathematics, 9(3).
  • Pirie, S., & Kieren, T. (1994). Beyond metaphor: Formalising in mathematical understanding within constructivist environments. For the Learning of Mathematics, 14(1).
  • Pirie, S., & Martin, L. (2000). The role of collecting in the growth of mathematical understanding. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 12(2), 127–146.
  • Skemp, R. (1976) Instrumental Understanding and Relational Understanding Mathematics Teaching, 77, 20–26. Retrieved from http://www.skemp.org.uk/ [click on papers].

Last updated September 26, 2012