Adults' mathematics: In work and for school
6/1/11 - 12/31/15
Person photo Dr Lisa Björklund Boistrup
Department of Mathematics and Science Education

School knowledge versus everyday knowledge is a fundamental issue in mathematics education. The objective of this research project is to describe, analyze and understand adults´ mathematics-containing work competences - including social, ethnic and gender related aspects - in relation to the demands made on students´ mathematical qualifications in formal vocational education. The working model for researching the dynamics of adults´ mathematics in work and for school combines a general approach - starting with demands from the labour market and school mathematics - and a subjective approach starting with the individual´s needs and competences in work. The problem complex will be studied through empirical investigations - quantitative (survey) and qualitative (observations, interviews and document analysis) - in interplay with theoretical constructions. Mathematics is integrated within workplace activities and often hidden in technology: mathematical elements are subsumed into routines, structured by mediating artefacts (e.g., texts, tools), and are highly context-dependent. As a discourse of education, lifelong learning assumes that learning takes place in all spheres of life. This project seeks to reverse the one-way assumption from school knowledge to workplace knowledge and to learn from workplace activity what might be appropriate for vocational education and training with implications for general schooling in Sweden.
The project is a collaboration between Stockholm University, Malmö University, Copenhagen University, and University of Melbourn.

The publications of the project are the following:
Björklund Boistrup, L., & FitzSimons, G. (2015). Matematik från ett yrkesperspektiv. In Skolverket (Eds.) Lärportalen för matematik. Moduler gymnasieskola. Undervisa matematik på yrkesprogram. Del 3: Yrkesmatematik. [Workplace mathematics] Downloaded 2015-01-13 from

Björklund Boistrup, L., & Gustafsson, L. (2014a). Construing mathematics-containing activities in adults' workplace competences: Analysis of institutional and multimodal aspects. Adults Learning Mathematics: An International Journal, 9(1), 7-23.

Björklund Boistrup, L., & Gustafsson, L. (2014b). Analysing and construing mathematics containing designing activities in adults' workplace competences. Quaderni di Ricerca in didattica, 24(1), 86-89.

Björklund Boistrup, L., & FitzSimons, G. (work in progress). Workplaces, vocational studies, and mathematics: Comparisons of recontextualisations.

Boistrup, B., L., & Henningsen, I. (2016). What can a re-analysis of PIAAC data tell us about adults and mathematics in working life? Paper presented at The tenth research seminar of the Swedish Society for Research in Mathematics Education in Karlstad January 26-27, 2016 (MADIF10).

Dahl, J., & Johansson, M.C. (2013). The citizen in light of the mathematics Curriculum. Educare Vetenskapliga Skrifter, (2), 27-43

Evans, J., Wedege, T., & Yasukawa, (2013). Critical perspectives on adults' mathematics education. In M.A. Clements, A. Bishop, C. Keitel-Kreidt, J. Kilpatrick, & F.K-S. Leung (Eds.). Third International Handbook of Mathematics Education (pp 203-242). Dordrecht: Springer.

FitzSimons, G. E. (2012). Learning mathematics in and out of school: A workplace education perspective. Quaderni di Ricerca in Didattica (Mathematics) (QRDM), 22, Supplemento n.1, 37-50. Available at: (1), 37-50.

FitzSimons, G. E. (2013). Doing mathematics in the workplace: A brief review of selected literature. Adults Learning Mathematics-An International Journal, 8(1), 7-19.

FitzSimons, G. E. (2014a). Commentary on vocational mathematics education: Where mathematics meets the realities of peoples' work. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 86, 291-305.

FitzSimons, G. E. (2014b). Mathematics in and for work in a globalised environment. Quaderni di Ricerca in Didattica (Mathematics) (QRDM), 23(1). Available at:

FitsSimons, G. E. (2014c). Mathematics as vocational knowing: The importance of recontextualisation.Quaderni di Ricerca in didattica,24(1), p.102-109,ISSN 1592-4424, 102-109. Available at,%20Suppl.1.pdf

FitzSimons, G. E. (2015a). Book review: Mathematics & mathematics education: Searching for common ground. Fried, M. N., & Dreyfus, T. (Eds.) (2014) Mathematics & mathematics education: searching for common ground. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 90(1), 95-103. doi:10.1007/s10649-015-9614-2

FitzSimons, G. E. (2015b). Learning mathematics in and out of school: A workplace education perspective. In U. Gellert, J. Giménez Rodríguez, C. Hahn, & S. Kafoussi (Eds.), Educational paths to mathematics. A C.I.E.A.E.M. sourcebook (pp. 99-115). Cham: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-15410-7_5

FitzSimons, G. E., & Björklund Boistrup, L. (work in progress). Recontextualisation and Mathematics: Towards Overcoming the Hiatus Between Mathematics Education and Work.

FitzSimons, G., & Mitsui, T. (2013). Education/Training with industry participation. In A. Damlamian, J. F. Rodrigues, & R. Sträßer (Eds.), Educational interfaces between mathematics and industry: Report on an ICMI-ICIAM-Study (pp. 95-107). New York: Springer.

Gustafsson, L., & Björklund Boistrup, L. (work in progress). Estimation in worklife: What is it about?

Johansson, M. C. (2014a). Transitions making up for (epistemic) gaps: A qualitative study of workers as learners in transition between school mathematics and mathematical activities in the workplace (Licenciatuppsats). Malmö: Malmö högskola.

Johansson, M. C. (2014b). Counting or caring: Examining a nursing aide's third eye using Bourdieu's concept of habitus. Adults Learning Mathematics. Special Issue. 9(1), 69-84

Johansson, M.C. (2014c). The value of mathematics in different realities. Quaderni di Ricerca in didattica,24(1), 301-311,ISSN 1592-4424, 102-109. Available at,%20Suppl.1.pdf

Johansson, M. C. & Björklund Boistrup, L. (2013). It is a matter of blueness or redness: Adults' mathematics containing competences in work. In B. Ubuz, Ç. Haser, M. A. Mariotti (Eds.) Proceedings of the Eighth Congress of European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (pp. 1744-1753). Ankara: Middle East Technical University.

Wedege, Tine (2013a). Workers' mathematical competences as a study object: Implications of general and subjective approaches. Adults' mathematics: Working papers,2.

Wedege, Tine (2013b). What does "technology" mean in educational research on workplace mathematics? Adults' mathematics: Working papers,3.

Wedege, Tine (2013c). Integrating the notion of foreground in critical mathematics education with the theory of habitus. Adults' mathematics: Working papers,4 (To be published in Ernest, P., & Sriramann, B. (Eds.). Critical mathematics education: Theory and praxis. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing (IAP).)

Wedege, T. & Björklund Boistrup, L. (2012). Från arbetet till skolan - Ett forskningsprojekt om vuxnas matematik. [From work to school: A research project on adults' mathematics] Nämnaren 2012:1, s. 50-54.

Wedege, Tine & Björklund Boistrup, Lisa (2013). Från arbetet till skolan: Ett forskningsprojekt om vuxnas matematik. [From work to school: A research project on adults' mathematics] Adults' mathematics: Working papers,1.

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Mathematics and Science Education