Analyzing and Developing Strategy Flexibility in Mathematics Education

  • Lieven Verschaffel
  • Koen Luwel
  • Joke Torbeyns
  • Wim Van Dooren


In this chapter, we describe and comment on how strategy flexibility or adaptivity has been defined, operationalized, and investigated from different theoretical perspectives on (elementary) mathematics learning and teaching. The resulting working definition is the selection and execution of the most appropriate solution strategy (available in one’s strategy repertoire) on a given mathematical task, and for a given individual, in a given context or situation. Then we report the scarce available empirical research indicating that strategy flexibility is an important and distinctive feature of being good at mathematics or having true mathematical expertise. In the third and final part, we argue that, because strategy flexibility has to be viewed as a disposition (involving also knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and emotions) rather than a skill, teaching for strategy flexibility cannot be conceived as a process that one can implement until routine expertise in the use of the strategies has been obtained, but should be the goal from the start of the teaching and learning process and in an integrative way.


Mathematics Education Strategy Choice Choice Condition Metacognitive Knowledge Epistemic Belief 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was funded by Grant GOA 2006/01 “Developing adaptive expertise in mathematics education” from the Research Fund Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lieven Verschaffel
    • 1
  • Koen Luwel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joke Torbeyns
    • 1
    • 3
  • Wim Van Dooren
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Instructional Psychology and TechnologyK.U.LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Centre for Educational Research and DevelopmentHogeschool-Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Group T – Leuven Education CollegeLeuvenBelgium

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