Psychology of learning mathematics
Notes - 20/3/00
Do tests of divergent thinking require novel situations? If the situation is
not novel we may be testing memory rather than divergent thinking.
Is divergent thinking innate or can it be improved by study? Tests of twins
suggest that variation in divergent ability may involve non-genetic factors.
Do the tests require the subjects to be unaware of what is begin tested?
Dryzek (Mismeasure of economic man) Q methodology. Treating subjects as
conscious sources of information. Also Vygotsky.
Implications for testing - Number of test subjects:
Can I construct Q sorts to compare convergent and divergent opinions?
- Test of sixth-form students (a la Hudson)
- continue with Guilford style tests.
- Contact school
- Tests of undergrads - three volunteers so far
- Only test semantic relations.
- Q sort and interview.
- Individual interviews.
What views am I trying to test?
Ways of asking
- Divergent thinking - (example of history)
- Applicability to biology
Styles of statement
- 1. Which statements do you agree with.
- 2. Which statements agree with the current position of
- 3. Which statements should "biology" agree with.
- Return to 1?
- Statements of method
- Statements of fact
- Student A
- Biology is mathematics
- Relevance must be proved with statistics (paraphrased)
- Student B
- Geography is useful to ecology
- Chemistry is vital
- Student C
- Maths is a great help to biologists
- Surprising amount of statistics in biology (paraphrased)
- Student D
- Maths is essential to biology.
- Research requires statistics. (paraphrased)
- Statistics particularly useful in ecology.
- Physics is an integral part of biomechanics and
- Sciences and maths overlap considerably and you're
unlikely to find one without the other.
- Most biologists would be ecstatic to find a research
project that does not involve maths.
- Student E
- Different subjects complement the different disciplines
of biology. (paraphrased)
- Chemistry is an obvious must for biochemistry, molecular
biology, physiology, etc.
- Physics is important for bio-mechanics
- Geography [is important] for understanding ecosystems
- History is not high on the biology agenda. (paraphrased)
- Latin is handy for classification and terminology.
- A basic understanfing of maths is necessary for any
statistical work - frequent in genetic.
- Science subjects are considerably inter-related.
- A broad understanding of science subjects will make a
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