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Looking at Variation theory in more depth

In this step, you will read a chapter from an article about Variation theory
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This step picks out the key points from the following article:

Gu, F., Huang, R., & Gu, L. (2017). Theory and development of teaching through variation in mathematics in China. In Huang, R., & Li, Y. (Eds.), Teaching and learning mathematics through variation: Confucian heritage meets Western theories (pp. 13-41), Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.


  • Teaching with variation provides a general and easy-to-understand and easy-to-follow pedagogical approach for mathematics teachers in their teaching of mathematics.

  • Teaching with variation also provides a good way for students to develop a deep understanding of the concepts.

  • Teaching with variation provides a good way for teachers to engage and motivate students in learning mathematics, while the focus is on academic matters.

  • Teaching with variation can help students to develop a strong foundation in learning mathematics, especially when used together with the Two Basics principles.


  • Teaching with variation is more for teachers and for classroom teaching, less for curriculum design and textbook development.

  • Teaching with variation usually requires more time for students and teachers in terms of content coverage.

  • Teaching with variation could be challenging or not applicable for teaching some topics in mathematics.

Suggestion: Teachers should try to accumulate a large number of examples of teaching different topics using variation. This might be through their own teaching experience and reflection, or through CPD.

© University of Southampton
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