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Inhibitory control and mathematics learning: definitional and operational considerations


The topic of inhibition in mathematics education is both well timed and important. In this commentary, we reflect on the role of inhibition in mathematics learning through four themes that relate to how inhibition is defined, measured, developed, and applied. First, we consider different characterizations of inhibition and how they may shape the ways that inhibition is conceptualized and studied in mathematics contexts. Second, we discuss methods that researchers use to study inhibition and how differences across these methods may constrain researchers’ conclusions or what these differences may imply for students’ use of inhibition when solving authentic mathematics problems. Third, we consider the relationship between intuition and mathematics content knowledge, including how this relationship may vary for students with different levels of knowledge. We end with a discussion of inhibition’s practical educational relevance, in which we offer a set of questions that may inform future conversations or research in the field.

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Correspondence to Jon R. Star.

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Star, J.R., Pollack, C. Inhibitory control and mathematics learning: definitional and operational considerations. ZDM Mathematics Education 47, 859–863 (2015).

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