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Mathematics 2019, 7(3), 297;

The Evolution of Mathematical Thinking in Chinese Mathematics Education

1,*, 2 and 3,4,*
School of Mathematics and Statistics, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China
Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
School of Mathematical Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
International Center for Research in Mathematics Education, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 February 2019 / Revised: 19 March 2019 / Accepted: 20 March 2019 / Published: 24 March 2019
PDF [778 KB, uploaded 24 March 2019]


Mathematical thinking (MT) has been one of the most important goals for mathematics education as it can support sustainable mathematics learning. Its role in school mathematics has recently been explicitly identified as one of “Four Basics” in the latest national curriculum standard for compulsory education, which is seen as one of the prominent features of Chinese mathematics education. This paper reviewed definitions, descriptions, and explanations from a historical perspective and aimed to provide a comprehensive and contemporary conceptualization for MT in a Chinese context, which can be applied as a comparison to MT in English works. To achieve this, document analysis was applied in this study. Major official documents, papers, and books were reviewed to see the process of MT conceptualization given by the policy makers and researchers. Results indicated that MT places more emphasis on the process of mathematical methods application in problem solving, such as the method of combination of symbolic and graphic mathematics. Mathematical thought is also recommended by Chinese researchers to help students think like mathematicians. Another major characteristic is that the classification of major types of MT is usually focused on that which can make the concept more understandable. View Full-Text
Keywords: mathematical thinking; mathematical method; Four Basics; curriculum standard; China mathematical thinking; mathematical method; Four Basics; curriculum standard; China

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Li, N.; Mok, I.A.C.; Cao, Y. The Evolution of Mathematical Thinking in Chinese Mathematics Education. Mathematics 2019, 7, 297.

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