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EPRC is a leading institute in Europe for comparative research on public policy, with a particular focus on regional development policies. Spanning 30 European countries, EPRC research programmes have a strong emphasis on applied research and knowledge exchange, including the provision of policy advice to EU institutions and national and sub-national government authorities throughout Europe.

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Tools or crutches? Apparatus as a sense-making aid in mathematics teaching with children with moderate learning difficulties

Moscardini, L. (2009) Tools or crutches? Apparatus as a sense-making aid in mathematics teaching with children with moderate learning difficulties. Support for Learning, 24 (1). pp. 35-41. ISSN 1467-9604

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Abstract

This paper challenges a view of concrete materials as abstracts used within a rigid instructional sequence that particular children are perceived to require or not, as the case may be. Focussing on mathematics teaching, it contends that it is more useful to consider the function of these materials as tools, artefacts used flexibly and selectively by pupils to make sense of mathematics, rather than as crutches, devices which may support procedural competency in mathematics but with no guarantees of understanding.