Mathematics Learning Research Group: Cultivating Future Mathematical Minds
​Erno Lehtinen (group leader), Minna Hannula-Sormunen, Jake McMullen, Boglarka Brezovszky, Minna Kyttälä, Anu Tuominen, Nonmanut Pongsakdi, Gabriela Rodriguez-Aflecht.

​Changes in the nature of work and societal practices in the post-industrial economy are transforming the kinds of knowledge and skills needed for future employment and participation in everyday life. New competencies, such as communication and information skills, beyond traditional competences, such as reading and mathematics proficiency have been emphasized. However, the importance of mathematics is not diminishing. On the contrary, work and everyday environments are increasingly based on embedded mathematics and shortages in mathematical skills are seriously constraining people’s success in work careers and societal activities. 

The concept “mathematical literacy” refers to the mathematical skills and knowledge a competent citizen needs in everyday situations. Shortages in mathematical literacy result in multifaceted problems for the individual. It hampers the learning of other subjects in school and limits people´s possibilities to succeed in daily affairs and professional careers.

However, the mathematical skills required to meet the needs of changing work and societal environments will not be developed through traditional classroom teaching alone. Instead of an inert ability to use mathematical operations in standard tasks, competent citizens should be able to use their mathematical skills in a highly adaptive and flexible way in novel situations in which the salient mathematical aspects are not explicitly apparent. Flexible skill in basic arithmetic with whole numbers makes up the early core of mathematics literacy. As well, for a competent citizen it is more and more important to have a good understanding of rational numbers and flexible procedural proficiency with them.

Based on our ground breaking findings on the role of spontaneous quantitative focusing tendencies in the development of mathematical thinking, the aim of the studies of the group is to deepen these findings and to develop new pedagogical practices which bridge school learning with students’ everyday activities and prepare them for the flexible and adaptive use of mathematical skills in future activities.