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Advanced mathematical study and the development of conditional reasoning skills


Reference:

Attridge, N. and Inglis, M., 2013. Advanced mathematical study and the development of conditional reasoning skills. PLoS ONE, 8 (7), e69399.

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    Official URL:

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069399

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    Abstract

    Since the time of Plato, philosophers and educational policy-makers have assumed that the study of mathematics improves one's general 'thinking skills'. Today, this argument, known as the 'Theory of Formal Discipline' is used in policy debates to prioritize mathematics in school curricula. But there is no strong research evidence which justifies it. We tested the Theory of Formal Discipline by tracking the development of conditional reasoning behavior in students studying post-compulsory mathematics compared to post-compulsory English literature. In line with the Theory of Formal Discipline, the mathematics students did develop their conditional reasoning to a greater extent than the literature students, despite them having received no explicit tuition in conditional logic. However, this development appeared to be towards the so-called defective conditional understanding, rather than the logically normative material conditional understanding. We conclude by arguing that Plato may have been correct to claim that studying advanced mathematics is associated with the development of logical reasoning skills, but that the nature of this development may be more complex than previously thought.

    Details

    Item Type Articles
    CreatorsAttridge, N.and Inglis, M.
    DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0069399
    Related URLs
    URLURL Type
    http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84880271399&partnerID=8YFLogxKUNSPECIFIED
    DepartmentsFaculty of Humanities & Social Sciences > Health
    Publisher Statementjournal.pone.0069399.pdf: © 2013 Attridge, Inglis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
    RefereedYes
    StatusPublished
    ID Code36494

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