Original Research

Mathematical sense-making through learner choice

Piera Biccard
Pythagoras | Vol 39, No 1 | a424 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v39i1.424 | © 2018 Piera Biccard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 April 2018 | Published: 24 October 2018

About the author(s)

Piera Biccard, Department of Curriculum and Instructional Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa


This article explores a conceptual relationship between learner choice and mathematical sense-making. It argues that when learners can exercise choice in their mathematical activities, mathematical sense-making can be enhanced. The literature around mathematical modelling suggests a link between sense-making and learner choice. A three-tiered conceptual analysis allowed ‘purposiveness to thinking’ from the author through engagement with selected literature. Research questions related to a three-tiered analysis: generic, context-specific, and conditional accounts of sense-making in mathematics classrooms were formulated. The analysis resulted in a framework showing how sense-making may be constrained or enhanced in mathematics classrooms through learner choice. This article may add to our holistic understanding of sense-making in mathematics classrooms. It may contribute to mathematics teacher education by proposing that teachers are resourced to facilitate learners’ conceptual and procedural choice in primary or secondary mathematics classrooms.


mathematical sense-making; learner choices; model-eliciting activities; conceptual analysis


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