Using visualisation in maths teaching
Using visualisation in maths teaching

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Using visualisation in maths teaching

1. A powerful force for perception and understanding

‘Imagery is a powerful force for perception and understanding. Being able to “see” something mentally is a common metaphor for understanding it. An image may be of some geometrical shape, or of a graph or diagram, or it may be some set of symbols or some procedure.’

(Open University, 1988, p. 10)

This course uses the word visualisation synonymously with mental imagery. It happens as we articulate our thoughts and as we understand what we are doing.

Each of the four sections in this course should further develop your thinking on visualisation.


The main purpose of this course is to encourage you to form images and be aware of your experiences of visualisation.

What does visualisation mean?

In ‘What does visualisation mean?’, you will find quotes and readings about visualisation, followed by an opportunity to compare your views with those of some other secondary-school mathematics teachers. By the end of this section you should be confident that you know what visualisation means.

In the classroom

‘In the classroom’ describes a lesson in which visualising provides an introduction for the students, another worthwhile and interesting activity, and some ways to use resources to promote and stimulate visualisation.


The conclusion points to some recommended books that will be useful if you want to think a little more seriously about visualisation, as well as highlighting where visualisation is incorporated into the framework for mathematics school teaching.


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