Saying versus doing: Teachers' conceptions of creativity in elementary mathematics teaching

Hana Lev-Zamir, Roza Leikin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of our study was to analyze teachers' conceptions of creativity in mathematics teaching (CIMT). We differentiated between declarative conceptions that are expressed in teachers' discourse about CIMT and conceptions-in-action that are expressed in teachers' lessons. Elementary and middle school mathematics teachers (grades 4-8) were individually interviewed and then welcomed/allowed the first author of this paper to observe their lessons which in their view exemplified CIMT. In this paper we focus on two study participants, named Healy and Debby, in order to demonstrate that while teachers' declarative conceptions seem to be very similar, their conceptions-in-action may differ dramatically. To explain this phenomenon we use a model of teachers' conceptions of creativity devised earlier in this study (Lev-Zamir and Leikin, Res Math Educ 13:17-32, 2011). The distribution of teachers' declarative conceptions, between those of a pedagogical and mathematical nature and those of a teacher-directed and student-directed nature, appears to be central when explaining the gap between declarative conceptions and conceptions-in-action. Additionally, we demonstrate that the model has not only descriptive but also explanatory and predictive power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-308
Number of pages14
JournalZDM - International Journal on Mathematics Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Conceptions-in-action
  • Creativity in mathematics teaching (CIMT)
  • Declarative conceptions
  • Student-directed conceptions
  • Teacher-directed conceptions
  • Teachers' conceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Saying versus doing: Teachers' conceptions of creativity in elementary mathematics teaching'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this