Psychology of learning mathematics
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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Last modified 23/3/00