Teaching Deductive Reasoning to Pre-service Teachers: Promises and Constraints

  • Kostas HatzikiriakouEmail author
  • Panayiota Metallidou


This paper broadly addresses the question of whether university students whose major does not require expertise in logic can improve their ability in deductive reasoning by taking an introductory course in logic. In particular, our study aims to evaluate a course in deductive logic offered by one of the authors in a department of elementary education. Two experiments were conducted by using a pretest-posttest design with an experimental and a control group as well as a follow-up test after 6 months on the experimental group. The results of the analyses showed that the course mainly succeeded in strengthening students’ general logical ability in the experimental group and these gains were retained 6 months later in the follow-up test. Promises and constraints of the study are discussed in the educational context.

Key words

arguments deductive reasoning logical thinking pre-service teachers tableau method truth tables Venn diagrams 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, P.A. & Murphy, P.K. (1999). Nurturing the seeds of transfer: A domain-specific perspective. International Journal of Educational Research, 31, 561–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Association for Symbolic Logic. (1995). Guidelines for logic education. The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic, 1(1), 4–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Braine, M.D.S. & Rumain, B. (1983). Logical reasoning. In J.H. Flavell & E.M. Markman (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Cognitive development (pp. 263–340). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  4. Braine, M.D.S., O’Brien, D.P., Noveck, I.A., Samuels, M.C., Lea, R.B., Fisch, S.M. & Yang, Y. (1995). Predicting intermediate and multiple conclusions in propositional logic inference problems: Further evidence for mental logic. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 124, 263–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cheng, P.W. & Holyoak, K. J. (1985). Pragmatic reasoning schemas. Cognitive Psychology, 17, 391–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cheng, P.W., Holyoak, K.J., Nisbett, R.E. & Oliver, L.M. (1986). Pragmatic versus syntactic approaches to training deductive reasoning. Cognitive Psychology, 18, 293–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clement, C.A. & Falmagne, R.J. (1986). Logical reasoning, world knowledge, and mental imagery: Interconnections in cognitive processes. Memory & Cognition, 14, 299–307.Google Scholar
  8. Ekstrom, R.B., French, J.W., Harman, H.H. & Derman, D. (1976). Manual for kit of factor-referenced cognitive tests. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.Google Scholar
  9. Epp, S.S. (2003). The role of logic in teaching proof. American Mathematical Monthly, 110, 886–899.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Evans, J.St. B.T. (2002). Logic and human reasoning: An assessment of the deduction paradigm. Psychological Bulletin, 128(6), 978–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Evans, J.St. B.T., Handley, S.J., Harper, C. & Johnson-Laird, P.N. (1999). Reasoning about necessity and possibility: A test of the mental model theory of deduction. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 25, 1495–1513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ferrari, P.L. & Marchini, C. (1996). Teaching and Learning Logic. In N.A. Malara, M. Menghini, & M. Reggiani (Eds.), Italian Research in Mathematics Education 1988 –1995. Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. Roma. (In
  13. Garnham, A. & Oakhill, J. (1994). Thinking and reasoning. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  14. Green, S.B. Salkind, N.J. & Akey, T.M. (2000). Using SPSS for Windows: Analyzing and understanding data (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  15. Herrera, T.A. & Owens, D.T. (2001). The “New New Math”?: Two reform movements in mathematics education. Theory into Practice, 40(2), 84–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hodges, W. (2001). Logic. Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  17. Hoyles, C. & Küchemann, D. (2002). Students’ understanding of logical implication. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 51, 193–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Johnson-Laird, P.N., Byrne, R.M.J. & Schaeken, W. (1992). Propositional reasoning by model. Psychological Review, 99, 418–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Klaczynski, P.A. (1993). Reasoning schema effects on adolescent rule acquisition and transfer. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(4), 679–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kolodner, J. (1993). Case-based reasoning. San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufman.Google Scholar
  21. Manktelow, K.I. (1999). Reasoning and thinking. Hove, England: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  22. Milne, P. (2004). Notes on teaching logic. Discourse: Learning and Teaching Philosophical and Religious Studies, 4(1), 137–158.Google Scholar
  23. Overton, W.F., Byrnes, J.P., & O’Brien, D.P. (1985). Developmental and Individual differences in conditional reasoning: The role of contradiction training and cognitive style. Developmental Psychology, 21, 692–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Overton, W.F., Ward, S.L., Noveck, I., Black, J. & O’Brien, D.P. (1987). Form and content in the development of deductive reasoning. Developmental Psychology, 23(1), 22–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Robertson, I. (2000). Imitative problem solving: Why transfer of learning often fails to occur. Instructional Science, 28, 263–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Robertson, S.I. & Kahney, H. (1996). The use of examples in expository tests: Outline of an interpretation theory for text analysis. Instructional Science, 24(2), 89–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Seibert, C. & Hedges, S. (1999). Do students learn in my logic class: What are the facts? Teaching Philosophy, 22, 141–159.Google Scholar
  28. Stanovich, K.E. (1999). Who is rational? Studies of individual differences in reasoning. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  29. Yu, J-Y.W., Chin, E-T. & Lin, C-J. (2004). Taiwanese junior high school students’ understanding about the validity of conditional statements. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 2, 257–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ward, S.L. & Overton, W.F. (1990). Semantic familiarity, relevance, and the development of deductive reasoning. Developmental Psychology, 26(3), 488–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Elementary EducationUniversity of ThessalyVolosGreece

Personalised recommendations