Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 23-49

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

One episode, two lenses

A reflective analysis of student learning with computer algebra from instrumental and onto-semiotic perspectives
  • Paul DrijversAffiliated withFreudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, University of Utrecht Email author 
  • , Juan D. GodinoAffiliated withFaculty of Education, University of Granada
  • , Vicenç FontAffiliated withDepartament de Didàctica de les Ciències Experimentals i la Matemàtica Campus Vall d’Hebron, Universitat de Barcelona
  • , Luc TroucheAffiliated withInstitut français de l’Éducation, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon


A deep understanding of students’ learning processes is one of the core challenges of research in mathematics education. To achieve this, different theoretical lenses are available. The question is how these different lenses compare and contrast, and how they can be coordinated and combined to provide a more comprehensive view on the topic of study. To investigate this, one single episode is analyzed with two theoretical lenses, the instrumental genesis perspective and the onto-semiotic approach. The results from this joint analysis provide a rich view on the observed phenomena and help to identify the affordances and constraints of each of the two theoretical approaches and to articulate them. This way, the networking of theories proves to affect theoretical advancements.


Digital technology Instrumental genesis Mathematics education Networking of theories Onto-semiotic approach