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Characterizing Swedish school algebra – initial findings from analyses of steering documents, textbooks and teachers’ discourses

Conference paper
Authors Kirsti Hemmi
Kajsa Bråting
Yvonne Liljekvist
Johan Prytz
Lars Madej
Johanna Pejlare
Kristina Palm Kaplan
Published in Nordic Research in Mathematics Education: Papers of NORMA 17 - The Eighth Nordic Conference on Mathematics Education Stockholm, May 30 - June 2, 2017
ISBN 978-91-984024-1-4
ISSN 1651-3274
Publisher Svensk förening för MatematikDidaktisk Forskning - SMDF
Place of publication Stockholm
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Mathematical Sciences
Language en
Subject categories Other Mathematics


The paper reports the first results of an ongoing research project aiming at characterizing Swedish school algebra (grades 1-9). Both diachronic and synchronic studies are conducted to identify the specific teaching tradition developed in Sweden and different theoretical approaches are applied in the overall project in order to obtain a rich picture of the Swedish case. The results reported here are based on the analyses of mathematics curriculum, textbooks and focus group interviews with teachers in seven schools. The initial results indicate that, since 1980s, algebra is vaguely addressed in the steering documents and the progression of algebraic thinking is elusive in teachers' discourses. Moreover, certain important ideas, such as generalized arithmetic, are largely missing in the curriculum and mathematics textbooks for grades 1-6. We discuss the implications of the initial findings for our project.

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