Blog > Teaching Maths for Mastery > The 5 Proven Learning Theories

Editor’s note: Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Singapore developed a new way of teaching maths following their poor performance in international league tables in the early 1980’s. Here Dr Yeap Ban Har talks through the five basic learning theories within Singapore maths, which in turn underpin maths mastery teaching.

The Singapore approach is based on five basic learning theories.

The first theory is from Piaget, which talks about letting students have ample processing time to accommodate new ideas. This is the reason Singapore textbooks have an anchor task: a single task that is dealt with for an extended amount of time.

The second learning theory is by Zoltan Dienes, which advocates the learning of ideas in an informal way, through exploration, before structured learning.

There is an emphasis on cooperative learning or collaborative structures during learning that derives from Lev Vygotsky.

Also emphasis on relational understanding, not just instrumental understanding, that comes from a theory by Richard Skemp.

Finally, the CPA approach, which is the use of concrete experiences to move learners to abstract learning — based on the learning theory by Jerome Bruner.

The Singapore approach is based on a set of basic learning theories starting with Piaget, all the way through to Skemp.