Encyclopedia of Science Education

Living Edition
| Editors: Richard Gunstone


  • Gérard Sensevy
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6165-0_406-2


Adidactical; Didactic contract; Didactic milieu; Epistemic system; Symbolic forms; Teaching

In this entry, we discuss the notion of milieu as interpreted by the French educational didactician Guy Brousseau (1997). We may generally define this concept in the following terms: the milieu is the actual material and symbolic structure of the problem at stake, which one has to deal with in order to solve this problem (Sensevy 2012). Here and hereafter, the term “problem” refers in a very general way to any situation in which one has to restore an equilibrium, in the Dewean sense (Dewey 1938).

Consider this example: at primary school, students are asked to reproduce a puzzle by enlarging it, in such a way that a segment which measures 4 cm on the model will measure 7 cm on the reproduction. The pieces of this puzzle constitute the milieu that the students face for this “enlargement problem.” This kind of milieu responds to three conditions:
  1. 1.

    The teacher’s intentions are inscrutable....


Winning Strategy Symbolic Form Proportional Reasoning Puzzle Piece Symbolic Structure 
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  1. Brousseau G (1997) Theory of didactical situations in mathematics. Kluwer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
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  3. Sensevy G (2012) About the joint action theory in didactics. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft 15(3):503–516, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11618-012-0305-9#CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Sensevy G, Tiberghien A, Santini J, Laubé S, Griggs P (2008) An epistemological approach to modeling: cases studies and implications for science teaching. Sci Educ 92(3):424–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Tiberghien A, Vince J, Gaidioz P (2009) Design-based research: case of a teaching sequence on mechanics. Int J Sci Educ 31(17):2275–2314CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of Western BrittanyRennesFrance