Disclosure of mathematical relationships with a digital tool: a three layer-model of meaning

Osama Swidan, Cristina Sabena, Ferdinando Arzarello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This paper examines mathematical meaning-making from a phenomenological perspective and considers how a specific dynamic digital tool can prompt students to disclose the relationships between a function and its antiderivatives. Drawing on case study methodology, we focus on a pair of grade 11 students and analyze how the tool’s affordances and the students’ engagement in the interrogative processes of sequential questioning and answering allow them to make sense of the mathematical objects and their relationships and, lastly, of the mathematical activity in which they are engaged. A three-layer model of meaning of the students’ disclosure process emerges, namely, (a) disclosing objects, (b) disclosing relationships, and (c) disclosing functional relationships. The model sheds light on how the students’ interrogative processes help them make sense of mathematical concepts as they work on tasks with a digital tool, an issue that has rarely been explored. The study’s implications and limitations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-101
Number of pages19
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Antiderivative
  • Disclosure
  • Dynamic digital tools
  • Function
  • Indefinite integral
  • Phenomenology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (all)
  • Education


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