Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 1–17 | Cite as

Kindergarten teachers’ orchestration of mathematical activities afforded by technology: agency and mediation

  • Martin CarlsenEmail author
  • Ingvald Erfjord
  • Per Sigurd Hundeland
  • John Monaghan


This paper focuses on kindergarten teachers’ interactions with young children during mathematical learning activities involving the use of digital tools. We aim to characterise the teachers’ roles and actions in these activities and extend considerations of teachers’ orchestrations current in the research literature with regard to agency and mediation. Our analysis of teacher-children-digital tool interaction reveals that the kindergarten teachers took three roles in their work with young children, which we call Assistant, Mediator and Teacher roles. These roles were used interchangeably and purposefully by the kindergarten teachers. With regard to agency and mediation, we argue that agency is distributed over the human and non-human agents in the activity and that agency and mediation are interrelated.


Affordances Agency Digital tools Kindergarten Mediation Orchestration Teachers 


  1. Clements, D., & Sarama, J. (2007a). Early childhood mathematics learning. In F. K. Lester Jr. (Ed.), Second handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 461–555). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  2. Clements, D., & Sarama, J. (2007b). Effects of a preschool mathematics curriculum: Summative research on the building blocks project. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 38(2), 136–163.Google Scholar
  3. Cole, M. (1996). Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press.Google Scholar
  4. Drijvers, P., Doorman, M., Boon, P., Reed, H., & Gravemeijer, K. (2010). The teacher and the tool: Instrumental orchestrations in the technology-rich mathematics classroom. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 75, 213–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Drijvers, P., Tacoma, S., Besamusca, A., Doorman, M., & Boon, P. (2013). Digital resources inviting changes in mid-adopting teachers’ practices and orchestrations. ZDM - The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 45(7), 981–1001. doi: 10.1007/s11858-013-0535-1
  6. Erfjord, I., Hundeland, P. S., & Carlsen, M. (2012). Kindergarten teachers’ accounts of their developing mathematical practice. ZDM - The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 44(5), 653–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fuson, K. C. (1988). Children’s counting and concepts of number. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gibson, J. J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  9. Gueudet, G., Bueno-Ravel, L., & Poisard, C. (2014). Teaching mathematics with technology at kindergarten level: Resources and orchestrations. In A. Clark-Wilson, O. Robutti, & N. Sinclair (Eds.), The mathematics teacher in the digital era: An international perspective on technology focused professional development (pp. 213–240). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Guin, D., & Trouche, L. (1999). The complex process of converting tools into mathematical instruments: The case of calculators. International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, 3(3), 195–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hundeland, P. S., Carlsen, M., & Erfjord, I. (2014). Children’s engagement with mathematics in kindergarten mediated by the use of digital tools. In U. Kortenkamp, B. Brandt, C. Benz, G. Krummheuer, S. Ladel, & R. Vogel (Eds.), Early mathematics learning. Selected papers of the POEM 2012 conference (pp. 207–221). New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-4678-1_13
  12. Joubert, M. (2013). Using digital technologies in mathematics teaching: Developing an understanding of the landscape using three “grand challenge” themes. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 82(3), 341–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kennewell, S. (2001). Using affordances and constraints in evaluate the use of information and communications technology in teaching and learning. Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education, 10, 101–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Lieberman, D. A., Bates, C. H., & So, J. (2009). Young children’s learning with digital media. Computers in the Schools, 26, 271–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Maracci, M., & Mariotti, M. A. (2013). Semiotic mediation and teacher’s actions. In A. M. Lindmeier & A. Heinze (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th conference of the international group for the psychology of mathematics education (Vol. 1, pp. 196–200). Kiel: PME.Google Scholar
  17. Monaghan, J. (2013). Activity theory. In A. M. Lindmeier & A. Heinze (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th conference of the international group for the psychology of mathematics education (Vol. 1, pp. 182–185). Kiel: PME.Google Scholar
  18. Pickering, A. (1995). The mangle of practice. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Plowman, L., & Stephen, C. (2003). A ‘benign addition’? Research on ICT and pre-school children. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 19, 149–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sarama, J., & Clements, D. H. (2009). “Concrete” computer manipulatives in mathematics education. Child Development Perspectives, 3(3), 145–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Trouche, L. (2004). Managing the complexity of human/machine interactions in computerized learning environments: Guiding students’ command process through instrumental orchestrations. International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, 9, 281–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Wagner, J. (1997). The unavoidable intervention of educational research: A framework for reconsidering research-practitioner cooperation. Educational Researcher, 26, 13–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wells, G. (1999). Dialogic inquiry: Towards a sociocultural practice and theory of education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Zbiek, R. M., Heid, M. K., Blume, G. W., & Dick, T. P. (2007). Research on technology in mathematics education. In F. K. Lester Jr. (Ed.), Second handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 1169–1207). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  26. Zbiek, R. M., & Hollebrands, K. (2008). A research-informed view of the process of incorporating mathematics technology into classroom practice by in-service and prospective teachers. In M. K. Heid & G. W. Blume (Eds.), Research on technology and the teaching and learning of mathematics: Research syntheses (vol. 1, pp. 287–344). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Carlsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ingvald Erfjord
    • 1
  • Per Sigurd Hundeland
    • 1
  • John Monaghan
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AgderKristiansandNorway

Personalised recommendations