In F. Rivera, H. Steinbring, & A. Arcavi (Eds.), Visualization as an epistemological learning tool [Special issue]. ZDM: The international Journal on Mathematics Education, 46(1), 79-93.
We contribute to research on visualization as an epistemic learning tool by inquiring into the didactical potential of having students visualize one phenomenon in accord with two different partial meanings of the same concept. 22 Grade 4-6 students participated in a design study that investigated the emergence of proportional-equivalence notions from mediated perceptuomotor schemas. Working as individuals or pairs in tutorial clinical interviews, students solved non-symbolic interaction problems that utilized remote-sensing technology. Next they used symbolic artifacts interpolated into the problem space as semiotic means to objectify in mathematical register a variety of both additive and multiplicative solution strategies. Finally they reflected on tensions between these competing visualizations of the space. Micro-ethnographic analyses of episodes from three paradigmatic case studies suggest that students reconciled semiotic conflicts by generating heuristic logico–mathematical inferences that integrated competing meanings into cohesive conceptual networks. These inferences hinged on revisualizing additive elements multiplicatively. Implications are drawn for rethinking didactical design for proportions.