Disciplinary Differences Between Cognitive Psychology and Mathematics Education: A Developmental Disconnection Syndrome. Reflections on 'Challenges in Mathematical Cognition' by Alcock et al. (2016)

Daniel Berch


As the participants in this collaborative exercise who are mathematics education researchers espouse a cognitive perspective, it is not surprising that there were few genuine disagreements between them and the psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists during the process of generating a consensual research agenda. In contrast, the prototypical mathematics education researcher will mostly likely find the resulting list of priority open questions to be overly restrictive in its scope of topics to be studied, highly biased toward quantitative methods, and extremely narrow in its disciplinary perspectives. It is argued here that the fundamental disconnects between the epistemological foundations, theoretical perspectives, and methodological predilections of cognitive psychologists and mainstream mathematics education researchers preclude the prospect of future productive collaborative efforts between these fields. [Commentary on: Alcock, L., Ansari, D., Batchelor, S., Bisson, M.-J., De Smedt, B., Gilmore, C., . . . Weber, K. (2016). Challenges in mathematical cognition: A collaboratively-derived research agenda. Journal of Numerical Cognition, 2, 20-41. doi:10.5964/jnc.v2i1.10]

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