Types of thinking and geometry problems


I am glad to see studies about the matching of types of thinking and types of problems. I saw this one yesterday:

“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.” [1]

To me, articles like these point towards a possible growing awareness that we have many thought processes available to us [2].This may remind us that we have a tremendous task in front of us – to learn how to best match each of these to the types of problems we face in life.

Of course geometry problems are a lot simpler than the interrelated, mixed-disciplinary problems we face in daily life – but we have to start somewhere.

Addendum: I initially wrote this last paragraph and edited out at the last minute. But now, I don’t think this posting is complete without it. I want to get in the habit of acknowledging risk factors along with ideas. One reason for that is to make sure that I have at least taken the time to consider the idea from another perspective. There are several risks that come along with studies like the one mentioned above. One of them is the risk of popularization of the idea that one problem solving method is always the best method. Another risk is the idea that as modalities and cognitive styles are mapped in a society, children (and individuals at large) may feel “strange” if they are not using the prevailing cognitive style to solve problems. An extreme case of this last situation may result in the emergence of yet another branch of “cognitive outcasts”.

[1] Karen L. Anderson et al. Performance on Middle School Geometry Problems With Geometry Clues Matched to Three Different Cognitive Styles. Mind, Brain, and Education, Volume 2 Issue 4, Pages 188 – 197 Published Online: 4 Nov 2008.

[2] We currently have listed around 200 thought processes in Wikipedia.

Related in this blog:

Types of thinking


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