On learning that could have happened: The same tale in two cities

Man Ching Esther Chan, Anna Sfard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this commognitive study, we take a close look at the interactive problem-solving by two middle-school students’ dyads, one of which participated in research conducted in Montreal, Canada in 1992, and the other, 25 years later, was a part of a classroom investigation in Melbourne, Australia. The present study was inspired by the second author's impression of similarity between the two cases. Our analyses, conducted with the help of special constructs, participation profiles, participation structures and roles-in-activity, brought two types of results. First, striking likeness was identified between the two cases in the characteristics of interactions that could be responsible for the production and utilization of learning opportunities. Role conflict likely experienced by the participants emerged as a factor undermining the effectiveness of learning-in-peer-interaction. Second, the confirmation of the similarity, combined with a theoretically supported analysis of mechanisms of interaction, corroborated the claim about generalizability of findings in commognitive case studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100815
JournalJournal of Mathematical Behavior
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • dialogic engagement
  • generalizability
  • learning interaction
  • participation profile
  • participation structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Applied Mathematics


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