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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - International Journal of Mathematics Teaching and Learning
Title Teaching with procedural variation: A Chinese way of promoting deep understanding of mathematics
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
URL http://www.cimt.plymouth.ac.uk/Journal/lai.pdf
Abstract
In mathematics education, there has been tension between deep learning and repetitive
learning. Western educators often emphasize the need for students to construct a conceptual
understanding of mathematical symbols and rules before they practise the rules (Li, 2006).
On the other hand, Chinese learners tend to be oriented towards rote learning and
memorization (Marton, Watkins & Tang, 1997). One aspect of the criticism is that rote
learning is known to lead to poor learning outcomes (Watkins & Biggs, 2001). However,
Chinese students consistently outperform their Western counterparts in many international
comparative studies on mathematics achievement such as TIMSS (Beaton, Mullis, Martin,
Gonzalez, Kelly & Smith, 1997; Mullis, Martin, & Foy, 2008) and PISA (OECD, 2004;
OECD, 2010). This paper aims to contribute to an understanding of the “paradox of the
Chinese learners” (Marton, Dall? Alba & Lai, 1993) by exploring the procedural variation
and its place in the development of mathematical understanding.

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