Abstract or Concrete Examples in Learning Mathematics? A Replication and Elaboration of Kaminski, Sloutsky, and Heckler’s Study
Dirk De Bock, Johan Deprez, Wim Van Dooren, Michel Roelens, and Lieven Verschaffel
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 enthusiastic 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.