Original Research

The sequencing and pairing of examples in the midst of sameness and difference: Opening opportunities to learn

Vasen Pillay, Jill Adler, Ulla Runesson Kempe
Pythagoras | Vol 43, No 1 | a667 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v43i1.667 | © 2022 Vasen Pillay, Jill Adler, Ulla Runesson Kempe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 November 2021 | Published: 01 November 2022

About the author(s)

Vasen Pillay, School of Education, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Jill Adler, School of Education, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Ulla Runesson Kempe, School of Education, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden


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Abstract

The teaching of mathematics cannot be thought of without considering the use of examples. The examples that teachers use during a lesson and how they mediate the example set is critical to what opportunities for learning are opened up during the lesson. In this article, we explore how a teacher mediates an example set with focus particularly on what is varied and what remains the same. The case that we draw on is taken from a larger learning study conducted in Grade 10 mathematics classes and the lesson that is used in this article was the last lesson in the learning study cycle. We use variation theory, specifically how the sequencing, pairing and juxtaposing of examples provides learners with opportunities to discern the critical aspect of the object of learning. We analyse the teacher’s mediation of the example set on a micro level, as this enables us to illuminate and develop our argument, while simultaneously offering a detailed example of mathematics teaching. We argue that it is the systematic and deliberate structuring of variation within an example set in the midst of invariance coupled with the teacher’s mediation of both planned and learner-generated examples that is critical for opening opportunities to learn.

Keywords

ritical aspects of object of learning; learner-generated examples; sequencing, pairing and juxtaposing examples; variation theory

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