Human ecology
Mathematics education
Psychology of learning mathematics Notes
Notes - 14/3/00

The purpose of this study is to investigate the links between divergent thinking and the mathematical attainment of biology students. Divergent thinking is the ability to find multiple answers to a particular problem. Divergent thinking can be contrasted with convergent thinking - the ability to find the best single answer to a problem. (Note: the terms divergent and convergent were introduced by Guilford to replace the terms creative and intelligent respectively.) Hudson found that in mathematics convergent thinkers out-numbered divergent thinkers by 3 to 1. In biology, on the other hand, he found equal numbers of convergent and divergent thinkers.

These differences in the abilities of mathematics and biology students would suggest that there are differences between these subjects. The differences are not only in content but also in the types of question raised by mathematics and biology. If these differences are significant it could have consequences for the current dialogue between mathematics and biology.

The exchange of ideas between mathematics and biology was very important during the 20th century. On the one hand, the mathematical ideas of S. Wright, R.A. Fisher, and J.B.S. Haldane enabled the synthesis between proponents of Darwin and Mendel. On the other hand, neural nets and chaotic systems have directly emerged from biological examples. Hudson's results would suggest that...


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Created 22/3/00
Last modified 23/3/00