The E.L.P.S Theory and Connectionist Approach – Comparing Two Theories on How Children Can Best Learn Mathematics
There are numerous theories about how children can best learn mathematics. I will compare two of these: the E.L.P.S. theory (1984), and the connectionist approach.
Mathematics is widely regarded as an abstract subject (Liebeck, 1984, p.14). To help explain the sequence of abstraction that children need to forgo to truly understand a mathematical concept, Pamela Liebeck (1984, p.16) devised the E.L.P.S theory:
E – Experience with physical objects,
L – spoken Language that describes the experience,
P – pictures that represent the experience,
S – written symbols that generalise the experience.
The connectionist approach, alternately, places its emphasis on pupils making connections from one context of mathematics and, drawing upon that knowledge, applying these to the particular area of maths that they are learning.
Both theories share similarities. Most obviously, both encourage pupils to draw upon their previous experiences when attempting to understand new concepts.