Developing Conceptual Understanding and Procedural Skill in Mathematics: An Iterative Process

Developing Conceptual Understanding and Procedural Skill in Mathematics: An Iterative Process
Bethany Rittle-Johnson and Robert S. Siefler, Carnegie Mellon University
Martha Wagner Alibali, Unversity of Wisconsin–Madison
Journal of Educational Psychology 2001

Current reforms in education focus on teaching children mathematical concepts and often downplay the importance of procedural knowledge (e.g., NCTM, 1989). Furthermore, some educators treat the relations between conceptual and
procedural knowledge as unidirectional (e.g., Putnam et al., 1992). They claim that conceptual knowledge can support improved procedural knowledge but suggest that the reverse is not true. In contrast, we found that the relations between conceptual and procedural knowledge are bidirectional and that improved procedural
knowledge can lead to improved conceptual knowledge, as well as the reverse. Thus, it is important that both types of knowledge are inculcated in the classroom.”

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