© 2019, © 2019 British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. Taking the example of teaching mathematical modelling in university degrees, this paper focuses on how the unit of analysis adopted by different research frameworks in mathematics education transforms a teaching problem into a research one. The transformation starts by including a specific way of conceiving not only the activity of modelling but also its possible evolutions and connections with more general mathematical or scientific activities. This epistemological dimension of the research problem can be enlarged by what we call the ecological dimension, that is, the set of conditions and constraints that allow or hinder the existence of specific mathematical activities, such as modelling, as normalised school practices, in particular, at the university. The institutional perspective adopted by the Anthropological Theory of the Didactic integrates both dimensions. This integration leads to the formulation of new research questions in the domain of modelling and applications and provides new tools to address them systematically.
- mathematical modelling
- the Anthropological Theory of the Didactic
- Unit of analysis