, Volume 85, Issue 3, pp 381-403

Digital technologies to teach and learn mathematics: Context and re-contextualization

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Abstract

The central assumption of this paper is that, especially in the field of digital technologies to teach and learn mathematics, the influence of the context in which research is carried out has not been given enough attention, so that research results are not really useful outside this context. We base our discussion on the work of a group of European teams carrying out research with a special methodology of “cross-studies” and carrying out “cross-analyses” of particular studies. A context for a research study is described as a dynamic construction by researchers, connecting relevant contextual characteristics in the settings (empirical and academic) where research activity takes place and helping to gain insight from the outcomes of the study. Analyzing the design of two “Didactical Digital Artefacts,” and the associated cross-studies involving teams of three countries, we identify more or less conscious influences of characteristics in the researchers' contexts upon research outcomes. Cross-studies and cross-analysis help to go further by making researchers more aware of their context and of its characteristics. It also helps researchers to “re-contextualize,” that is to say to identify new contextual characteristics in the settings they are acting in, to gain insight from research outcomes that emerged in other contexts.