Title: Abstract or concrete examples in learning mathematics? A replication and elaboration of Kaminski, Sloutsky, and Heckler’s study
Authors: De Bock, Dirk ×
Deprez, Johan
Van Dooren, Wim
Roelens, Michel
Verschaffel, Lieven #
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Series Title: Journal for Research in Mathematics Education vol:42 issue:2 pages:109-126
Abstract: Kaminski, Sloutsky, and Heckler (2008a) published in Science a study on “The advantage of abstract examples in learning math,” in which they claim that students may benefit more from learning mathematics through a single abstract, symbolic representation than from multiple concrete examples. This publication elicited both enthus-iastic and critical comments by mathematicians, mathematics educators, and policymakers worldwide. The current empirical study involves a partial replication — but also an important validation and extension — of this widely noticed study. The study’s results confirm Kaminski et al.’s findings, but the accompanying qualitative data raise
serious questions about their interpretation of what students actually learned from the abstract concept exemplification. Moreover, whereas Kaminski et al. showed that abstract learners transferred what they had learned to a similar abstract context, this study shows also that students who learned from concrete examples transferred their knowledge into a similar concrete context.
ISSN: 0021-8251
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Education and Training
Leuven Academic Centre for Professional Development in Education
Specific Teacher Training Programme in Mathematics
Formerly "Subfaculteit Antwerpen/Handelswetenschappen - TM A"
Instructional Psychology and Technology
Centre for Educational Expertise, FEB, Campus Brussels (-)
Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) - miscellaneous
Research Centre for Educational Research & Development, Campus Brussels (-)
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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