Informal mathematical understandings: implications for further education         Contents page

Terezinha Nunes, University of Oxford


Terezinha Nunes is Professor of Educational Studies in the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Harris-Manchester College. She started her career as a clinical psychologist in Brazil and moved to a research career by obtaining a doctorate in Psychology at City University of New York, where she was supported by a Fulbright Scholarship. Her work spans the domains of children's literacy and numeracy, including both hearing and deaf children's learning, and her focus of analysis covers cognitive and cultural issues, with a special interest in educational applications.

Her work on "street mathematics" in Brazil uncovered many features of children's and adults' informal knowledge, and her subsequent work in the U.K. investigates how this informal knowledge can be used in education. Her literacy research focuses on the connections between moprhological awareness, spelling and vocabulary growth. She currently leads the project Family-School Partnership: Promoting Deaf Children's Education, supported by the National Deaf Children's Society.


There are many opportunities for people to develop mathematical understandings outside school. We develop our thinking about quantities and relations between them even when we might not be able to use numbers to represent the quantities or the relations between them. This presentation will focus on research suggests that informal knowledge of functional relations is often implicit and thus may be incomplete. This presentation will highlight the basis and strengths of informal knowledge about functions and suggest ways of capitalizing on this knowledge in school.