Explicating the Role of Mathematical Tasks in Conceptual Learning: An Elaboration of the Hypothetical Learning Trajectory

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Simon's (1995) development of the construct of hypothetical learning trajectory (HLT) offered a description of key aspects of planning mathematics lessons. An HLT consists of the goal for the students' learning, the mathematical tasks that will be used to promote student learning, and hypotheses about the process of the students' learning. However, the construct of HLT provided no framework for thinking about the learning process, the selection of mathematical task, or the role of the mathematical tasks in the learning process. Such a framework could contribute significantly to the generation of useful HLTs. In this article we demonstrate how an elaboration of reflective abstraction (i.e., reflection on activity-effect relationships), postulated by Simon, Tzur, Heinz, and Kinzel (in press), can provide such a framework and thus a theoretical elaboration of the HLT construct.