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Evaluation of CPA: strengths and limitations

Evaluation of CPA
Weighing scales
© University of Southampton


  • CPA provides a general easy-to-follow principle for curriculum design and textbook development.

  • CPA also provides a general easy-to-follow principle for maths teachers for their teaching in maths classrooms.

  • CPA can help students learn, not only at primary school level, but as a general principle, also at secondary and even at university level. This is because to it reflects a great extent the way people learn.

  • CPA makes some more sophisticated and less-accessible education research easier to understand and access for mathematics teachers for teaching in their classrooms.


  • CPA is a general pedagogical principle, not a specific mathematics problem-solving method (different from the model method).

  • CPA is more applicable for thinking about mathematics teaching over a period of time (e.g. a few weeks or even a few semesters). It is less applicable for teaching a specific lesson period or a topic at a particular point of time.

  • CPA as a general principle can serve many students, though the principle itself does not distinguish between any specific students, e.g. under-performing or high-performing students. This could mean that overusing the principle might affect the development of some students with additional needs.

  • CPA as a general principle does not offer any specific examples or methods for any specific topics in any specific lessons. For example, it does not tell you what the best concrete materials are, what the best pictorial presentations are, and what the best examples are for learning at an abstract level.


Teachers should learn about CPA, and exchange experiences with other colleagues to accumulate good examples of using CPA. Teacher professional development can play a critical role in this.

© University of Southampton
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