Generativity in design research: the case of developing a genre of action-based mathematics learning activities

A. Bakker, A.Y. Shvarts, Dor Abrahamson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Educational research is often of limited use to designers, as it typically offers descriptions of or explanations for how education was or currently is. In this paper we argue that generalizability is not enough; what deserves more attention is generativity. Designers and educators need actionable
knowledge on how education could be. To substantiate the criterion of generativity, we here develop the construct of a design genre—a theory-driven class of designs targeting a particular form of learning. As an example we discuss the evolution of an action-based genre of embodied design
through iterative theory-design clarifications. Initially instantiated in the form of activities for promoting the understanding of proportional reasoning, the genre has been elaborated through the process of applying it to additional notions such as parabolas and trigonometry. We argue that this genre was generative for design, theory development, and methodological innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eleventh Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education
EditorsU. T. Jankvist, M. van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M. Veldhuis
Place of PublicationUtrecht, the Netherlands
PublisherFreudenthal Group & Freudenthal Institute, Utrecht University and ERME
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-90-73346-75-8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • mathematics curriculum
  • generalization
  • sensory experience
  • instructional design
  • learning theory


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