, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 267–279 | Cite as

Problem modification as a tool for detecting cognitive flexibility in school children

  • Cristian VoicaEmail author
  • Florence Mihaela Singer
Original Article


This paper presents the results of an experiment in which fourth to sixth graders with above-average mathematical abilities modified a given problem. The experiment found evidence of links between problem posing and cognitive flexibility. Emerging from organizational theory, cognitive flexibility is conceptualized through three primary constructs: cognitive variety, cognitive novelty, and changes in cognitive framing. Among these components, changes in cognitive framing could be effectively detected in problem-posing situations, giving a relevant indication of students’ creative potential. The students’ capacity to generate coherent and consistent problems in the context of problem modification may indicate the existence of a strategy of functional type for generalizations, which seems to be specific to mathematical creativity.


Problem posing Cognitive flexibility Creativity Change in cognitive framing 

Mathematical Subject Classification




The authors thank the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on an early version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© FIZ Karlsruhe 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of BucharestBucharestRomania
  2. 2.Department of EducationUniversity of Ploiesti, and Institute for Educational SciencesBucharestRomania

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