A transfer advantage of learning diagrammatic representations of mathematics


This study examined learning and transfer of a simple mathematical concept when learning a symbolic sentential format versus learning a diagrammatic format. Undergraduate college students learned an instantiation of a cyclic group and were then given a test of a novel isomorphic group of the same order followed by a test of a novel non-isomorphic group of a higher order. The results were that both the sentential and the diagrammatic formats led to successful learning and transfer to the novel isomorphic group. However, only learning from the diagrammatic representation produced successful transfer to the non-isomorphic group. These findings suggest that learning a diagrammatic representation of a mathematical concept can have transfer advantages over learning strictly sentential formats.

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