Certain types of thinking are best suited to certain types of problem-solving

November 12, 2008

Chestnut Hill, MA - November 12, 2008 - A new study in the journal Mind, Brain, and Education reveals that 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.

"Our research may have an impact on the teaching of geometry, and perhaps mathematics in general," the authors conclude. "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 U.S."
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This study is published in the December 2008 issue of Mind, Brain, and Education. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Beth Casey, Ph.D., is affiliated with Boston College and can be reached for questions at caseyb@bc.edu.

Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE), recognized as the 2007 Best New Journal in the Social Sciences & Humanities by the Association of American Publishers' Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division, provides a forum for the accessible presentation of basic and applied research on learning and development, including analyses from biology, cognitive science, and education.

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.wiley-blackwell.com or http://interscience.wiley.com.

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