Science & Education

, Volume 27, Issue 7–8, pp 737–767 | Cite as

The Phenomenon of False Assumption in Historical and Educational Texts

  • Jiří PřibylEmail author
  • Petr Eisenmann
  • Ján Gunčaga


This article describes two heuristic strategies for problem solving: the use of false assumption strategy and the use of double false assumption strategy. Both of these strategies have their roots deep in history. In this article, we define these two strategies and illustrate their use in a problem developed by Frances Pellos. The article provides an overview of occurrences of these two strategies in various mathematical and educational texts. The texts show clearly that both of these strategies played a significant role in mathematics education in the past. We present some examples from concrete historical documents, which we use later for the preparation of a teaching experiment. We also present the conclusions of an experiment conducted on three lower secondary schools in the Czech Republic, the goal of which was to test the applicability of the use of false assumption strategy as a propaedeutic to solving word problems using equations.



Supported by Scientific Grant Agency VEGA project 1/0440/15 Geometric conceptions and misconceptions of pre-school and school age children and Czech Science Foundation project P407/12/1939 Development of culture of problem solving in mathematics in Czech schools.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of Jan Evangelista Purkyně in Ústí nad LabemÚstí nad LabemCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Science Education, Faculty of EducationComenius University in BratislavaBratislavaSlovak Republic

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