Pathways to Number: Children's Developing Numerical Abilities

By Jacqueline Bideaud; Claire Meljac et al. | Go to book overview

14 Understanding the Microgenesis of Number: Sequence Analyses

Madelon Saada-Robert

Université de Genève


MICROGENETIC REPRESENTATION AND THE SEQUENTIALITY OF NUMERICAL BEHAVIOR

This chapter has two objectives. The first is to demonstrate the methodological interest of segmentating sequences of observational data and analyzing how they chain in the microgenetic construction of numerical and protonumerical procedures. The second is the application of microgenetic analysis to numerical representations. The general psychological framework is the structural approach to the ontogenesis of number (stage level markers, filiation, and connected constructions; Piaget & Szeminska, 1941) and the principles of genetic epistemology. The analysis of numerical microgenesis is specifically situated within the context of the study of representation, as formulated in cognitivist developmental psychology ( Cellérier & Inhelder, 1991). Representation is defined as the organizational framework of knowledge activation in models. This knowledge is made meaningful through its specification in context and is oriented through the sequencing of procedures.

Understanding the microgenetic construction of representations (i.e., models) presupposes an in-depth and fine-grained analysis of the sequencing of behavior. This is a lengthy endeavor, which, as has been shown in work on adults' ( Vermersch , 1984) and in children's problem solving ( J.-M. Richard, 1989), can be accounted for in a rigorous fashion. The sequencing of behaviors, their order of occurrence, and the type of chaining that connects them (linear, progressive, inclusive, or hierarchical) can be identified by segmenting the continuum of observable behaviors into organized sequences. Several methods of data analysis can then be applied to these segments. Thus, case observation and analysis are no

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