, Volume 44, Issue 7, pp 927–940

A pedagogic appraisal of the Priority Heuristic


    • Institute of EducationUniversity of London
  • Ralph Levinson
    • Institute of EducationUniversity of London
  • Phillip Kent
    • Institute of EducationUniversity of London
  • Cristina Yogui
    • Institute of EducationUniversity of London
  • Ramesh Kapadia
    • Institute of EducationUniversity of London
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11858-012-0440-z

Cite this article as:
Pratt, D., Levinson, R., Kent, P. et al. ZDM Mathematics Education (2012) 44: 927. doi:10.1007/s11858-012-0440-z


We have explored how science and mathematics teachers made decisions when confronted with a dilemma in which a fictitious young woman, Deborah, may choose to have an operation that might address a painful spinal condition. We sought to explore the extent to which psychological heuristic models, in particular the Priority Heuristic, might successfully describe the decision-making process of these teachers and how an analysis of the role of personal and emotional factors in shaping the decision-making process might inform pedagogical design. A novel aspect of this study is that the setting in which the decision-making process is examined contrasts sharply with those used in psychological experiments. We found that to some extent, even in this contrasting setting, the Priority Heuristic could describe these teachers’ decision-making. Further analysis of the transcripts yielded some insights into limitations on scope as well the richness and complexity in how personal factors were brought to bear. We see these limitations as design opportunities for educational intervention.


RiskDecision makingProbabilitySimulation

Copyright information

© FIZ Karlsruhe 2012