A Mathematics Education Perspective on early Mathematics Learning between the Poles of Instruction and Construction

Welcome to the 5th POEM - Conference

15-16 May 2020
in Karlsruhe, Germany


We are very happy to have as keynote speakers:

Prof. Dr. Esther Brunner
(Mathematics Education, University of Education Kreuzlingen, Switzerland) and
Prof. Dr. Korbinian Möller
(Neuro-cognitive Plasticity, Leibniz Institute for Knowledge Media, University of Tübingen, Germany)

Mathematical reasoning in early childhood education: What is it and how can we elicit and foster this process?

Mathematical reasoning is one of the key practices in mathematics and, therefore, in mathematics education as well. The process of mathematical reasoning includes activities such as exploring and investigating a pattern or a formal relation with the aim of gaining an insight into the fundamental characteristics that are constitutive of a particular mathematical structure. In the context of classroom instruction, such activities are generally assumed to lead to deepened learning and understanding of mathematics. Exploration alone does not suffice, however, because sound mathematical reasoning needs to build on a basic set of mathematical ideas and knowledge. Since reasoning shapes mathematical thinking and learning in a fundamental way, it forms an integral part of educational standards for school mathematics in many countries whereas there is currently no precisely defined standard available that specifies mathematical reasoning in early childhood. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to focus on this propaedeutic process too: In order to ensure the cumulative acquisition of knowledge and to provide coherent mathematics education, it is crucial to include and elicit mathematical reasoning already in early childhood education. This requires a thorough understanding of the underlying cognitive processes. Moreover, it is necessary to determine what reasoning skills are usually to be expected at an early age, and to find out how teachers can support young children during reasoning processes and facilitate such activities.

In my presentation, I first provide an overview of the individual cognitive process of early mathematical reasoning. Afterwards, I situate this process in a social context and explain its dialogical organization. Against this background, I refer to a concrete reasoning problem so as to describe the thinking and reasoning processes of young children in detail. On this basis, I would like to draw conclusions concerning the question of how to support and foster children in such activities and illustrate this by taking a prototypical situation that is agespecific and in line with current educational practice in early childhood education as an example.

Numerical Cognition: From Brain Activations to Finger-based Representations

Numbers have long been considered the ideal example of abstract information processing. However, there is now accumulating evidence suggesting that physical experiences (e.g., finger use in early numerical development) seem to result in embodied representations of numerical information. In this talk, I will present recent results indicating that numerical magnitude information and arithmetic facts are processed in two anatomically largely separate networks within the brain. While the network for arithmetic facts prominently involves areas associated with long-term memory functioning, number magnitude processing is associated with a widespread network incorporating areas involved in (finger) motor control. Against this background, I will then present results of a recent training study, in which children were trained on finger-based numerical strategies over the course of the first school year. Results indicated that these children outperformed children of a control group attending regular math curriculum in their addition and subtraction performance. These findings indicate that children may benefit from embodied (in this case finger-based) strategies for counting and initial arithmetic. This substantiates the theoretical idea of what is called neural recycling, this means the functional involvement of brain circuits associated with (finger) motor control in the representation of numerical information.

Still we are faced with the question, in which way children should be ‘educated’ in mathematics before entering primary school.

In keeping with POEM tradition, we address this question from a mathematics education perspective on early mathematics learning in the strain between instruction and construction. The topic of the conference, which is focusing on pre-primary education, includes research on the design of learning opportunities, the development of mathematical thinking, the impact of the social setting and the professionalization of kindergarten educators.

We want to create a focused working atmosphere with paper presentations. This allows more interaction and exchange between researchers with the possibility of starting, maintaining and intensifying research networks in early mathematics learning.

This conference is not open to public contributions; however, we cordially ask you to suggest further participants to the organizers.


1st POEM-Conference - 2012, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2nd POEM-Conference - 2014, Malmö, Sweden
3rd POEM-Conference - 2016, Karlsruhe, Germany
4th POEM-Conference - 2018, Kristiansand, Norway
5th POEM-Conference - 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

Please register for the Conference by 31st of January 2020 at the following email address: poem(at)ph-karlsruhe.de

Participants are requested to reserve their own accommodation. Here you will find a list of possible hotels. If you have any questions, you can contact us at any time (poem(at)ph-karlsruhe.de).


Names of the Hotels


Distance to the University


City Partner Hotel Berliner Hof


Douglasstraße 7,

76133 Karlsruhe

350 m

3-star Hotel

City Hotel Karlsruhe


Kaiserstraße 152-154,

76133 Karlsruhe

500 m

2-star Hotel

ALFA Hotel Superior


Buergerstrasse 4,

76133 Karlsruhe

750 m

3-star Hotel

Hotel Ambassador


Hirschstraße 34,

76133 Karlsruhe

800 m

3-star Hotel

Hotel Rio


Hans-Sachs-Str. 2,

76133 Karlsruhe

800 m

4-star Hotel

Hotel am Markt


Kaiserstr. 76,

76133 Karlsruhe

1,0 km

3-star Hotel

acora Hotel und Wohnen Karlsruhe


Sophienstraße 69-71,

76133 Karlsruhe

1,1 km

3-star Hotel



Karl-Friedrich-Str. 12,

76133 Karlsruhe

1,2 km

4-star Hotel

Arthotel ANA Eden


Bahnhofstrasse 15-19,

76137 Karlsruhe

1,6 km

3-star Hotel

Novotel Karlsruhe City


Festplatz 2,

76137 Karlsruhe

1,6 km

4-star Hotel

Leonardo Hotel Karlsruhe


Ettlinger Str. 23,

76137 Karlsruhe

1,9 km

4-star Hotel

Hotel Barbarossa


Luisenstrasse 36-38,

76137 Karlsruhe

2,1 km

3-star Hotel

As 2020 is also the 10th anniversary of the Early Maths Project ‘MiniMa’ in Karlsruhe, we seized the opportunity to combine these two events. You are, therefore, very much invited to participate in the official ‘Birthday Ceremony’ on May 14th at 5:00 pm and all the more you are invited to the

Get together’ on May 14th at 6:30 pm.

Both, the “Birthday Ceremony” and the "Get together" will take place at the University of Education Karlsruhe, in the building of the Institute of Mathematics (Building 2).

The address is: Bismarckstraße 10, 76133 Karlsruhe.

A detailed plan will follow.

The POEM conference officially opens on Friday 15th in the morning and ends on Saturday 16th  in the early afternoon.

You are very much invited to participate in the official ‘Birthday Ceremony’ on May 14th at 5:00 pm and all the more you are invited to the ‘Get together’ on May 14th at 6:30 pm (see above).

The detailed schedule of the conference will be announced later.

If you travel by plane, "Frankfurt am Main" (FRA) is the closest airport. There is a train station directly at the airport and after about one hour by train you reach Karlsruhe main station.

You can find the website of the "Deutsche Bahn" (trains) here: https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml

You can find the website for the Karlsruhe public transport (trams) here: https://www.kvv.de/en/

Note: Normally a "City Ticket" is included with the train ticket. This means that you can use the local transport (trams and buses) from Karlsruhe main station to your destination with your train ticket once without having to buy a new ticket.

The University of Education is located in the down town area of Karlsruhe, about 10 minutes from the main station. The closest tram station is “Europaplatz”.

There will be no conference fee. Traveling expenditure and accommodation are on your own. During the conference we will provide you with beverages and sandwiches and we warmly invite you to a conference dinner on May 15th.

We would like to invite you to participate with a presentation of your research findings, of first result or of a specific concept idea for further studies as a contribution to the discussion.

If you would like to contribute to the conference, please prepare a paper (8 to 10 pages) and a presentation (15-20 minutes). After the presentation there will be a discussion (15-20 minutes). Here you have the chance to present topics that you have been thinking about and that you would like to discuss with the other conference participants.

Please send your paper via email (poem(at)ph-karlsruhe.de) until the 1st of April 2020.

Here you can download the template: Template_POEM_2020_Paper

Please register for the Conference by 31st of January 2020 at the following email address: poem(at)ph-karlsruhe.de

Please send your paper via email (poem(at)ph-karlsruhe.de) until the 1st of April 2020.

Letzte Änderung: 27.03.2020
Für den Inhalt verantwortlich: poem@ph-karlsruhe.de