Certain types of thinking suit problem solving

November 13th, 2008 - 12:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 13 (IANS) Certain types of thinking are best suited to solving certain types of problems. Specifically, geometry problems are best solved by a combination of verbal and spatial strategies, but not shape-based imagery strategies. Researchers investigated whether middle school students solved geometry problems more successfully than their peers when they were provided with clues consistent with their own style of thinking.

The cognitive styles that were identified and the related clues were verbal, spatial, and shape-based.

They found that regardless of the type of clue provided, spatial and verbal thinking styles were useful for solving the geometry problems, while shape-based thinking was much less effective.

The study shows that geometry problems are solved most successfully through certain styles of thinking, according to an Eurekalert release.

“Our research may have an impact on the teaching of geometry, and perhaps mathematics in general,” the authors concluded.

“Specifically, teaching students how to think spatially and manipulate and hold in mind images may improve their performance in geometry class. Thus, it is important for students to consider other thinking styles than approaches usually taught in most introductory geometry classes in the US.”

Co-authors of the study are Karen L. Anderson, Stonehill College; M. Beth Casey, Boston College; William L. Thompson and Marie S. Burrage, Harvard University; Elizabeth Pezaris, Northeastern University and Stephen,M. Kosslyn, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Thefindings were published in the journal Mind, Brain and Education.

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