Explicating a Mechanism for Conceptual Learning: Elaborating the Construct of Reflective Abstraction

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We articulate and explicate a mechanism for mathematics conceptual learning that can serve as a basis for the design of mathematics lessons. The mechanism, reflection on activity-effect relationships, addresses the learning paradox (Pascual-Leone, 1976), a paradox that derives from careful attention to the construct of assimilation (Piaget, 1970). The mechanism is an elaboration of Piaget's (2001) reflective abstraction and is potentially useful for addressing some of the more intractable problems in teaching mathematics. Implications of the mechanism for lesson design are discussed and exemplified.