Skip to main content

Building the Foundation: Whole Numbers in the Primary Grades

The 23rd ICMI Study

  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2018

You have full access to this open access Book


  • First ICMI study to provide a broad critical survey of research on early childhood mathematics and Whole Number Arithmetic
  • Produced through a comprehensive international study involving leading academics and designers in the field
  • Considers trends and future directions for early mathematics teaching and learning

Part of the book series: New ICMI Study Series (NISS)

Buy print copy

Softcover Book USD 54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book USD 54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

About this book

This twenty-third ICMI Study addresses for the first time mathematics teaching and learning in the primary school (and pre-school) setting, while also taking international perspectives, socio-cultural diversity and institutional constraints into account. 

One of the main challenges of designing the first ICMI primary school study of this kind is the complex nature of mathematics at the early level. Accordingly, a focus area that is central to the discussion was chosen, together with a number of related questions. The broad area of Whole Number Arithmetic (WNA), including operations and relations and arithmetic word problems, forms the core content of all primary mathematics curricula. The study of this core content area is often regarded as foundational for later mathematics learning. However, the principles and main goals of instruction on the foundational concepts and skills in WNA are far from universally agreed upon, and practice varies substantially from country to country. As such, this study presents a meta-level analysis and synthesis of what is currently known about WNA, providing a useful base from which to gauge gaps and shortcomings, as well as an opportunity to learn from the practices of different countries and contexts. 

Similar content being viewed by others


Table of contents (20 chapters)

  1. Working Group Chapters and Commentaries

  2. Panels


“The book Building the Foundation: Whole Numbers in the Primary Grades is the documentation of the 23rd ICMI study. For those not familiar with this series, ICMI (International Commission on Mathematical Instruction) studies are international conferences supported by the Executive Committee of the International Commission of Mathematics Instruction. The participants in these conferences together produce a study volume which aims to offer a coherent, state-of-the-art representation of the domain of the study.” (Jorryt van Bommel and Hanna Palmér, Educational Studies in Mathematics, Vol. 100, 2019)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Department of Education and Humanities, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy

    Maria G. Bartolini Bussi

  • Faculty of Education, University of Macau, Macao, China

    Xu Hua Sun

Bibliographic Information

Publish with us