Original Article


, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 253-265

First online:

Illumination: an affective experience?

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What is the nature of illumination in mathematics? That is, what is it that sets illumination apart from other mathematical experiences? In this article the answer to this question is pursued through a qualitative study that seeks to compare and contrast the AHA! experiences of preservice teachers with those of prominent research mathematicians. Using a methodology of analytic induction in conjunction with historical and contemporary theories of discovery, creativity, and invention along with theories of affect the anecdotal reflections of participants from these two populations are analysed. Results indicate that, although manifested differently in the two populations, what sets illumination apart from other mathematical experiences are the affective aspects of the experience.