From resource to document: Scaffolding content and organising student learning in teachers’ documentation work on the teaching of series

Alejandro S. González-Martín (Lead Author), Elena Nardi, Irene Biza

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We examine teachers’ use of resources as they prepare to teach the topic of numerical series of real numbers in order to identify how their personal relationship with mathematical content—and its teaching—interacts with their use of a commonly used textbook. We describe this interplay between textbook and personal relationship, a term coined in the Anthropological Theory of the Didactic (ATD, Chevallard, 2003), in the terms of documentation work (resources, aims, rules of action, operational invariants), a key construct from the documentational approach (DA, Gueudet & Trouche, 2009). We do so in the case of five post-secondary teachers who use the same textbook as a main resource to teach the topic. Documentational analysis of interviews with the teachers led to the identification of their aims and rules of action (the what and how of their resource use as they organise their teaching of the topic) as well as the operational invariants (the why for this organisation of their teaching). We describe the teachers’ documentation work in two sets of aims/rules of action: scaffolding mathematical content (series as a stepping stone to learning about Taylor polynomials and Maclaurin series) and organising student learning about series through drill exercises, visualisation, examples, and applications. Our bridging (networking) of theoretical constructs originating in one theoretical framework (personal relationship, ATD) with the constructs of a different, yet compatible, framework (documentation work, DA) aims to enrich the latter (teachers’ documentation work) with the individual agency (teachers’ personal relationship with the topic) provided by the former.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231–252
Number of pages22
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number3
Early online date9 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • documentational approach
  • documentation work
  • ATD
  • personal relationship
  • series
  • textbook use

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