, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 663–679 | Cite as

Flexible use of symbolic tools for problem solving, generalization, and explanation

  • Lisa B. Warner
  • Roberta Y. Schorr
  • Gary E. Davis
Original Article


We provide evidence that student representations can serve different purposes in the context of classroom problem solving. A strategy used expressly to solve a problem might be represented in one way, and in another way when the problem is generalized or extended, and yet in another way when the solution strategy is explained to peers or a teacher. We discuss the apparent long-term memory implications this has regarding the preferences that students have for their original versus later developed representations, and how these preferences relate to the use of representational flexibility in classroom settings.


Flexibility Representation Flexible thinking Problem solving 



The authors would like to thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for a number of invaluable suggestions.


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Copyright information

© FIZ Karlsruhe 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa B. Warner
    • 1
  • Roberta Y. Schorr
    • 1
  • Gary E. Davis
    • 2
  1. 1.Rutgers UniversityNewarkUSA
  2. 2.University of Massachusetts DartmouthDartmouthUSA

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