Vetenskapsteoretiska och historiska perspektiv på matematikdidaktik 10 hp


Course description

Mathematics education as a field of research is one of the largest, international sub-branches of educational research. Nowadays, it is a growing field not only in terms of the topics of research and publication, but also in the variety of theories and methods that it deploys. This course examines the formation and development of mathematics education as a field of academic inquiry from a perspective that highlight the fields’ history and theory of science. It engages how mathematics education emerged, historically, in the context of the consolidation of educational and social sciences; the problem of the higher qualification (in colleges or universities) of mathematics teachers, both in national contexts and internationally; and the expansion of massive education systems providing mathematics to a wide number of the population. Epistemologically, the course explores how and why there have been different views on what is conceived as “research”, but also education in mathematics. Here attention is paid to the theoretical foundations for the understanding of the objects of research of mathematics education. In the course, the epistemological and historical perspectives intertwine to answer questions about the constitution of the production of academic enquiry, its perceived purposes, and its connection to the teaching/learning and legitimization of mathematics in different educational settings.

The course will invite participants to become acquainted with tools for understanding what it means to address the epistemological and historical dimensions of mathematics education in general. In particular, the students will be invited to clarify their own positioning in an epistemological perspective, and how it relates to their own research project. They will also be invited into an exercise of historization of the topic of their research as a way of experiencing the meaning of historical configurations in relation to defining and investigating mathematics education practices.

The seminar combines individual study and writing, and intensive seminars with lectures and group discussions.

Expected outcomes

After the course, it is expected that the participants are able to:

  1. Construct an account of mathematics education as a field of academic research and of its constitution and development.
  2. Critically engage both their own account of mathematics and the accounts of others.
  3. Identify different epistemological positions and their implications in relation to their own research.
  4. Provide a limited historical contextualization of their own research objects.

Forms of participation

The course is designed in the form of two intensive work seminars and one examination seminar. At the seminars will be a combination of lectures and discussions, on the basis of readings and preparatory tasks which the participants have to bring to the sessions. There will be sustained interaction and critical engagement between the lecturers and the participants. The course demands concerted and sustained preparation for the sessions.


The course examination consists of a written text that can constitute part of the students’ thesis. The text, of max 8.000 words, can be a historization of the topic of study or object of study of the thesis, or an epistemological exploration of the theoretical and methodological positions adopted in the thesis.