Friday, 2 May, 2014
4:00 - 4:30 pm
Hart Hall, 113
Dr. Patricia Emmons, Elementary and Early Childhood Education
Dr. Polina Sabinin, Mathematics
by Camille Schulman
Mathematics requires the culmination of many problem-solving skills in order to reach valid conclusions; one such skill is the ability to reason logically, or deductively. Currently, the Common Core State Standards (2010) are emphasizing the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in education; one of the standards for mathematical practice states that students be able to “construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.” The purpose of this study was to analyze whether elementary students in first and fourth grade possess the ability to deductively reason through visual logic tasks, and if so, what strategies they use to complete such tasks. This mixed-methods study used visual logic tasks selected from Logic Gym, a visual logic supplementary curriculum for elementary school students, to examine how students reason through visual tasks (Lyons, Lyons, and Sabinin, in publication). Student written work and interviews were used to understand how students in first and fourth grade were able to successfully, or unsuccessfully, complete Logic Gym tasks. The written work was used to quantitatively analyze student’s ability to complete tasks. Additionally, through the use of grounded theory, interviews were analyzed to determine common strategies used to complete the logic tasks. Five strategies emerged: clue mapping, mental representation, guess and check, listing of possibilities and process of elimination. Data was coded and common themes were analyzed. Findings from this study display that students in both first and fourth grade are able to deductively reason through visual logic tasks. This study supports previous research about how problem complexity, content and presentation impact children’s ability to successfully complete reasoning tasks. Educators can use this study in order to better understand the level that their students are able to comprehend deductive reasoning.