Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 97, Issue 1, pp 71–92 | Cite as

Mediating primary mathematics: theory, concepts, and a framework for studying practice

  • Hamsa VenkatEmail author
  • Mike Askew


In this paper, we present and discuss a framework for considering the quality of primary teachers’ mediating of primary mathematics within instruction. The “mediating primary mathematics” framework is located in a sociocultural view of instruction as mediational, with mathematical goals focused on structure and generality. It focuses on tasks and example spaces, artifacts, inscriptions, and talk as the key mediators of instruction. Across these mediating strands, we note trajectories from error and a lack of coherence, via coherence localized in particular examples or example spaces, towards building a more generalized coherence beyond the specific example space being worked with. Considering primary mathematics teaching in this way foregrounds the nature of the mathematics that is made available to learn, and we explore the affordances of attending to both coherence and structure/generality. Differences in ways of using the framework when either considering the quality of instruction or working to develop the quality of instruction are taken up in our discussion.


Primary mathematics teaching Sociocultural theory Mediation South Africa Artifacts Inscriptions Instructional quality 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wits School of EducationUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.School of Education and CommunicationJönköping UniversityJönköpingSweden
  3. 3.Wits School of EducationUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  4. 4.Monash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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