Teaching with Variation

The central idea of teaching with variation is to highlight the essential features of the concepts through varying the non-essential features. Gu, Huang & Marton, 2004

Conceptual Variation: What it is in all its different forms

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True or False?: What is it and what is it not?






Variation Versus Variety

  • Variety;
    ‘Pick and mix’
    Most practice exercises contain variety
  • Variation
    Careful choice of WHAT to vary
    Careful choice of what the variation will draw attention to

Compare the two sets of calculations.

What’s the same, what’s different? Consider how variation can both narrow and broaden the focus.

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Looking at all aspects of the concept.

Tasks which challenge and provoke reasoning about concepts

2 paper tapes were broken, can you guess which original paper tape is longer? Why? How do you get your answer?






Intelligent Practice

In designing the exercises below the teacher is advised to avoid mechanical repetition and to create an appropriate path for practising the thinking process with increasing creativity .
Gu 1991















What is varying and what is not? – What is being drawn attention to?













Intelligent practice provides :

  1. Practice in calculation
  2. Opportunities to spot relationships and make connections
  3. Deepen conceptual understanding
  4. Develop fluency and make connections

Procedural fluency and conceptual understanding are developed in tandem.