Complexity Theory in the Mathematics Lab-Classroom

Margaret Sinclair


The main thesis of a recent article by Davis and Simmt (2003) is that “mathematics classes are adaptive and self-organizing complex systems”. This thesis is intriguing. It helps explain a phenomenon teachers often witness—the spontaneous emergence of a special learning community in a particular class. And it raises the question—if this thesis applies to all mathematics classes how do the additional elements of a computer lab environment affect the evolution of the “learning system”? In this article three technology experiences have been analyzed in light of the thesis, to determine how software, organization, and task impact the blossoming of a complex learning system in the lab-classroom.

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