The University of Montana
Department of Mathematical Sciences

Technical report #2/2011

Extrapolation or Expansion?: Characteristics of impact exposed in a longitudinal study of one school’s participation in successive mathematics teaching development projects.

Claire V. Berg, Anne Berit Fuglestad and Simon Goodchild, University of Agder, Norway

Bharath Sriraman, The University of Montana


Communities of practice theory models development as extrapolation, whereas cultural historical activity theory models development as expansion. This paper explores the differences between these models and their underlying principles. A longitudinal case study of one school team that worked within a series of mathematics teaching developmental research projects over a period of six years is analysed to expose evidence of development, which is examined for indications of extrapolation and expansion. The projects were designed on principles of communities of inquiry, which it is claimed radically transform community of practice theory, entailing a shift into the critical paradigm. The paper engages with the analysis and synthesis of a large volume of qualitative data that accrues in teaching development projects.

Keywords: Communities of practice; Communities of inquiry; Cultural historical activity theory; extrapolation; expansion; Large scale qualitative data analysis

AMS Subject Classification: 97

Preprint of Paper submitted to Journal for Research in Mathematics Education Pdf (204 KB)