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Title: Advanced mathematical study and the development of conditional reasoning skills
Authors: Attridge, Nina
Inglis, Matthew
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Public Library Science (© 2013 Attridge, Inglis)
Citation: ATTRIDGE, N. and INGLIS, M., 2013. Advanced mathematical study and the development of conditional reasoning skills. PLOS ONE, 8 (7), 8pp.
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.
Description: 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.
Sponsor: M.I. is supported by a Royal Society Worshipful Company of Actuaries Research Fellowship (http://royalsociety.org/).
Version: Published
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069399
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/19850
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069399
ISSN: 1932-6203
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Mathematics Education Centre)

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