### Browsing by Author "Torr, Stuart"

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- ItemOpen AccessAddressing dualism in mathematical abstraction: An argument for the role of Construal Level Theory in mathematics education(School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, University of Western Sydney, 2013-11) Torr, Stuart; Craig, Tracy SLearners of mathematics often struggle to balance the apparently conflicting demands for abstract thinking as well as (often simultaneous) concrete cognitive engagement. Conflicting demands of successful mathematical engagement have been addressed in the literature pertaining to procedural versus conceptual approaches to mathematical learning as well as in the literature on cognitive and meta-cognitive mathematical demands. Construal Level Theory offers an opportunity to understand both these dualities as aspects of the same psychological response to contextual priming. In addition, Construal Level Theory can be understood to illuminate student difficulties with heuristic strategies in mathematical problem-solving. The focus of Construal Level Theory on abstract and concrete cognitive construals as a consequence of psychological distance provides a useful lens for teaching and learning opportunities. We argue that Construal Level Theory offers an opportunity to draw together several strands of mathematics education theory and to help educators address learning challenges in the classroom.
- ItemOpen AccessConstrual level theory and mathematics education(2013) Torr, Stuart; Craig, Tracy SA common complaint of mathematics students is that mathematics is highly abstract. Students often find it difficult to attach meaning to the mathematical concepts they are expected to master. In addition to coming to grips with the abstract nature of the subject, mathematical proficiency requires engagement at a more concrete level. Students must be able to perform step by step algorithmic procedures, detailed algebraic manipulations and master new symbol systems. Mathematical competence often requires thinking at high and low levels of abstraction almost simultaneously and this creates a tension which lies at the core of mathematics education. This tension has been addressed in the literature on procedural versus conceptual approaches to mathematics education and in the literature on cognitive and metacognitive mathematical demands. Construal level theory, and to a lesser extent dual process theory, are theories in cognitive and social psychology which provide a lens through which the difficulties of reasoning at multiple levels of abstraction can be viewed. Construal level theory posits that thinking about psychologically distant objects influences the extent to which we view possibly unrelated objects abstractly or concretely. Psychological distance and abstract thought are cognitively linked together and make up Far Mode thinking. Psychological proximity and concrete thinking are intrinsically linked together to form Near Mode thinking. It is argued that construal level theory forms a useful framework for interpreting much mathematics education research as well as helping to explain the difficulties students experience in implementing problem solving heuristic strategies. Evidence is presented suggesting that priming mathematics students to adopt either a Near or Far mental mode has an impact on their performance in solving conceptually challenging mathematical problems.