Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 73–85 | Cite as

Distance university students' processing of mathematics exercises

  • I. F. Svenson
  • J. A. Lawrence
  • S. G. Willis


This study reports the development and use of a taxonomy for describing the way distance students plant their work and use course materials to complete mathematics exercises. A taxonomy of 12 component procedures of cognitive operations was developed from a set of propositions about problem-solving. Two undergraduate students of mathematics and one graduate thought aloud as they completed an exercise using standard course materials under distance study conditions. The verbal protocols of the students' problem-solving processes and use of course materials were described and compared using the taxonomy.

The two undergraduates centred on single aspects of the problem. They used examples rather than conceptual information presented in the written materials. The graduate made greater use of theories and definitions, but like the undergraduates, neglected the expository material. No student planned the work.

The data are discussed in terms of the usefulness of a taxonomic description of thinking-aloud data for course designers and mathematics teachers.


Cognitive Operation Undergraduate Student Study Condition Mathematics Teacher Verbal Protocol 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Co 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. F. Svenson
    • 1
  • J. A. Lawrence
    • 1
  • S. G. Willis
    • 1
  1. 1.Murdoch UniversityMurdochAustralia

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