Bridging Psychology and Mathematics Education: Reflections on Boundary Crossing

Martha W. Alibali, Eric J. Knuth


Collaborations between psychology and mathematics education have the potential to yield progress on critical questions about the teaching and learning of mathematics. In this paper, we describe our experience of collaborating at this boundary. We have found that collaboration has many benefits: it strengthens the research, it is professionally enriching, and it brings novel perspectives to disciplinary communities. However, collaboration is also challenging, because different views about the nature of knowledge and the aims of inquiry can be difficult to bridge. Collaboration can also raise difficult questions about professional identity. We consider several factors that are critical to success in interdisciplinary collaboration, including methodological openness, a broad view of what constitutes “basic” and “applied” research, and an appreciation for diverse perspectives and varying levels of analysis. We close by offering some advice for others who wish to collaborate at the boundary of psychology and mathematics education.


collaboration; interdisciplinary work; mathematics learning; mathematics education

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