A Tale of Two Researchers: Commonalities, Complementarities, and Contrasts in an Examination of Mental Computation and Relational Thinking

Helena P. Osana, Jérôme Proulx


This paper describes a research collaboration between an educational psychologist and a mathematics education researcher, namely a didacticien des mathématiques. Our joint project aimed to explore the mental computation strategies of preservice teachers in an elementary mathematics methods course and to investigate the relationship between mental computation and relational thinking. The primary objective of the paper, however, is to go beyond the data and their interpretation. We describe the commonalities, complementarities, and points of contrast that emerged between us as researchers who hail from different disciplines, but who have the same overarching interests in mathematical thinking. In particular, we untangle issues we encountered during our collaboration related to our research questions, methodologies, and epistemological stances. We detail the ways in which we navigated these issues in the context of the research and describe what we learned about our own disciplinary perspectives and each other’s. We conclude by discussing what our story offers as a means of reflecting on our individual fields and potential interactions between them.


educational psychology; mathematics education; didactique des mathématiques; disciplinary perspectives; epistemology; mental computation; relational thinking

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