Shortcomings of mathematics education reform in the Netherlands: a paradigm case?

K. Gravemeijer, G. Bruin-Muurling, J.M. Kraemer, I. van Stiphout

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)
    450 Downloads (Pure)


    This article offers a reflection on the findings of three PhD studies, in the domains of, respectively, subtraction under 100, fractions, and algebra, which independently of each other showed that Dutch students' proficiency fell short of what might be expected of reform in mathematics education aiming at conceptual understanding. In all three cases, the disappointing results appeared to be caused by a deviation from the original intentions of the reform, resulting from the textbooks' focus on individual tasks. It is suggested that this “task propensity”, together with a lack of attention for more advanced conceptual mathematical goals, constitutes a general barrier for mathematics education reform. This observation transcends the realm of textbooks, since more advanced conceptual mathematical understandings are underexposed as curriculum goals. It is argued that to foster successful reform, a conscious effort is needed to counteract task propensity and promote more advanced conceptual mathematical understandings as curriculum goals.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25-44
    Number of pages20
    JournalMathematical Thinking and Learning
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016


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