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ERIC Number: ED479129
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 28
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Abstraction and Concreteness in the Everyday Mathematics of Structural Engineers.
Gainsburg, Julie
The everyday mathematics processes of structural engineers were studied and analyzed in terms of abstraction. A main purpose of the study was to explore the degree to which the notion of a gap between school and everyday mathematics holds when the scope of practices considered "everyday" is extended. J. Lave (1988) promoted a methodology that treats person-in-activity as an integral whole. Laves approach was used as the researcher conducted 70 hours of ethnographic observation of structural engineers in two firms as they went about their usual work. The four tasks observed involved multiple engineers of varying experience. Findings show that structural engineers practice in a world of quantities, units, procedures, and concepts, some of which exhibit concrete qualities, some of which appear more abstract, and some of which defy placement in either camp. Engineering expertise appears two-pronged, involving an increased amount of personal, concrete meaning associated with particular quantities and concepts, and at the same time, greater facility with abstract methods and theory. Findings support classroom methods that encourage students to construct their own meanings of mathematical concepts and quantities, and suggest that constructivism may describe the knowledge acquisition of adults no longer in classroom situations. (Contains 7 figures and 25 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A