Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 94, Issue 1, pp 21–36 | Cite as

Agency and assemblage in pattern generalisation: a materialist approach to learning

  • Francesca Ferrara
  • Giulia Ferrari


In this paper, we draw on the contemporary perspective of inclusive materialism offered by de Freitas and Sinclair to contribute to current discussions on the role of the body in the learning of mathematics. Using the notions of distributed agency and assemblage, we illustrate the way in which three students engage with a patterning task. We discuss this as an example to show how the mathematics activity involves, besides the students’ bodies, other materialities that populate the classroom, and how all the human and non-human bodies form a moving assemblage that constantly reconfigures and reorients learning. The inclusive materialism helps us talk about learning as a dynamic assemblage rather than in terms of individual achievements and directs attention to the material learning environment.


Assemblage Agency Body Generalisation Inclusive materialism Pattern 



This research has been supported by the Department of Mathematics of the University of Torino. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed herein are our own and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the agency. We are grateful to Elizabeth de Freitas and Nathalie Sinclair for their help and comments, as well as to the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Informed consent has been obtained for research purposes. In addition, we have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Università di TorinoTorinoItaly

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