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Crowley, Mary L. "The van Hiele Model of the Development of Geomemc Thought.

" In Learning and Teaching Gemretry, K-12, 1987 Yearbook of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, edited by Mary Montgomery Lindquist, pp.1-16. Reston, Va.: National Council af Teachers af Mathematics, 1987.

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The van Hiele Model of the Development of Geometric Thought
Maiy L Crowley .

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Copyright @ 1987 by the National Counal of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc. i:-~~z.n~.t7n.o?-.r.

however. A person at this stage. students are aware of space only as something that exists around them. K-12 deduction. The Plodel Level O1 (Basic L a d ) : Visualization At this initial stage. Relationships between properties. Thus figures are recognized as having parts and are recognized by their parts. given the diagrams in figure 1. or level 0. by their physical appearance. . Furthermore. given a geoboard or paper. Given a grid of parallelograms such as those in figure 1. For example. After using several such examples. The van IiiCles themselves rpolcc of LmL beginn@ with the basic W. cannot yet be explained by students at this level. the student could copy the shapes. the latter level.1. however. are recognized by their shape as a whole. interrelationships between figures are still not seen. 1. "establish" that the opposite angles of parallelograms are equal. n (a) (b) Fig. A person functioning at this level can learn geometric vocabulary. that is. A synopsis of the levels is presented below. students could. These emerging properties are then used to conceptualize is classes of shapes. Level 1Analysls : At level 1. can reproduce it. and ending with level 4. a student at this level would be able to recognize that there are squares in (a) and rectangles in (b) because these are similar in shape to previously cncountered squares &d rectangles. For example. can identlfy specified shapes.LEARNING AND TEACHING CiEOMETRY. Geometric figures. Few students are exposed to. would not recognize that the figures have right angles or that opposite sides are parallel. through observation and experimentation students begin to discern the characteristc of figures. an analysis of geometric concepts begins. Different numbering systems for the model may k encountered in the literature. students could make generalizations for the class of parallelograms. and definitions are not yet understood. and given a figure. for example.2. by "coloring" the equal angles. or reach. not by their parts or properties. Geometric concepts are viewed as total entities rather than as having components or attributes. 1 1 .

not just memorize. that is. and different systems can be compared. The student at this level. the possibility of developing a proof in more than one way is seen.. the interaction of necessary and sufficient conditions is understood. in a quadrilateral. Formal proofs can be followed. I M. but students do not see how the logical order could be altered nor do they see how t construct a proof starting from o =rent or unfamiliar premises. L2 lad2: Informal Deduction . A person at this level can construct. van Hiele has acknowledged that he ? is interested in the first three levels in particular (Alan Hoffer. non-Euclidean geometries can be studied. it is not surprising that most research has also concentrated on lower levels. Levlcl3: Deduction At this level. however. theorems. proofs. personal communication. and proof is seen. Perhaps as the van Hiele model is extended to other areas (it is being applied to economics and chemistry in Holland). This last level is the least developed in the original works and has received little attention from researchers. Geometry is seen in the abstract. Thus they can deduce properties of a figure and recognize classes of figures. Delinitions are meaningful. dehitiom.g. At this stage the learner cau work in a variety of axiomatic systems. . axioms. Class inclusion is understood. students can establish the interrelationships of properties both within figures (e. this last level will achieve more prominence. At this level. Empirically obtained results are often used in conjunction with deduction techniques. opposite sides being parallel necessitates opposite angles being equal) and among figures (a square is a rectangle because it has all the properties of a rectangle). does not comprehend the si&cance of deduction as a whole or the role of axioms. The interrelationship and role of undefined terms. Since the majority of high school geometry courses are taught at level 3. distinctions between a statement and its converse can be made. Informal arguments can be followed and given. 25 February 1985).THE VAN HIELE MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT Fig. postulates. the significance of deduction as a w y of establishing g e e a met+ theory within an axiomatic system is understood.

To function successfully at a particular level. or older children in differentiating and integrating though they do no know what differential quotients and integrals are" (Freudenthal 1973. but it is not until level 1 that the figurc is analyzed and its components and properties are discovered. p. These properties are particularly significant to educators because they provide guidance for making instructional decisions. Advancement. 5 . however. If the student is at onc lcvcl and instruction is at a different level. Thc figure is. content. Geomctric examples include the memorization of an area formula or relationships like "a square is a rectangle. a figure may have more than one name (class inclusion)-a square is also a rectangle (and a parallclogram!). the van Hieles identified somc generalities that characterize the model. For example. K-12 Properties o f the Model In addition to furnishing insights into the thinking that is specific to each level of geometric thought. at level O only the form of a figure is perceived. For example. Intrinsic and extrimic. 246). some methods enhance progress. Mirmatch. like one can train young children in the arithmetic of fractions without telling them what fractions mean. 25). and so on. A student at level I does not conceptualize that this kind of nesting can occur. dctcrrnined by its properties. if the teacher. Linguisticr. p. The inhcrent objects at one level become the objects of study at the next lcvcl. of course. are fundamental at level 2. In particular. As with most developmental theories. "Each level has its own linguistic symbols and its own systems of relations connecting these symbols" (I? van Hiclc 1984a." In situations like these. 3. 1. Thus a relation that is "correct" at one lcvcl may be modified at another level. This typc of notion and its accompanying language. the student will not be able to follow the thought processes being used. are at a higher level than the lcarner. whereas others retard or even prevent movemcnt bctwcen levels. instructional materials. vocabulary. the desired learning and progress may not occur. 4. a person must procecd through the levels in order. what has actually happened is that the subject matter has been reduced to a lower level and understanding has not occurred.LEARNING AND TEACHING GEOMETRY. Progress (or lack of it) from level to level depends more on the content and methods of instruction received than on age: No method of instruction allows a student to skip a level. a learner must have acquired the strategies of the preceding levels. . Sequential. Van Hiele points out that it is possible to teach "a skillful pupil abilities above his actual level. 2 .

"They gain experience in finding their own way or resolving the tasks. By orienting themselves in the field of investigation. 1 3 . and students are ready to repeat the phases of learning at the next level. straws. many relations between the objects of study become explicit to the students" (HoEfer 1983. students woulc! c o ~ ? l e t e activity such as fir: frrilawing. tessellations. tangrams. What type(s) of figures do you get if you cut the corner at a 30" angle? At a 45" angle? Describe the angles at the point of intersection of the diagonals. D-sticks. 'Rachea in the early elementary years can provide basic-level exploratory experiences through cutouts." "family nees. p. roughly at levels 1 and 2. paper folding. grid work. geoboards. that these summaries not present anythmg new. Providing van Hiele-Based Experiences Implicit in the van Hieles' writing is the notion that children should be presented with a wide variety of geometric experiences. Try to imagine what kind of figure you would get if you cut off the corner made by the folds (fig.3b). For example. The point of intersection is at what point on the diagonals? Why is the area of a rhombus described by one-half the product of the two diagonals?" (a) Fig. 247) of what h e students have learned. thcn in half again as shown here (fig. It is important. can include wrking with grids. 208). paper in half.6 LEARNING AND TEACHJNG GEOMETRY. The teacher can assist in this synthesis "by furnishing global surveys" (van Hide 19Wa. "property cards." and "what's . The new domain of thLnking replaces the old. The properties of the rhombus that have emerged would be summarized and their origins reviewed. Justlfy your answer before you cut. "Fold a piece of m. p. (b) Phase 5: integration The students review and summarize what they have leamed with the goal of forming an overview of the new network of objects and relations.3a). however. and geometric puzzles. students have attained a new level of thought. Middle school and junior high school experiences. At the end of the fifth phase. 1. 1. K-12 that can be completed in several ways. and open-ended tasks. collections of shapes.

color. to manipulate. Aditi-~nal activities can be fuund in the articles by Burger (1985).. photographs. 1985). and Shaughnessy and Burger (1985). Prevost (1985).THE VAN HIELE MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT 7 my name" games. within other shapes lines in a trapezoid rectangles.-----------. and other places A/ * etc. Many of these ideas were culled from the descriptors of student behavior developed by the researchers at Brooktyn h l l e g (Geddes et al. Burger and Shaughnessy (1986). pattern blocks. Hoffer (1981). fold. to identify a shape or geometric relation-.e. The following pages provide examples of these and other types of activities appropriate for the first four van Hiele levels. sort) in a variety of orientations involving physical objects in the classroom. or other manipulatives (i. . Provide students opportunities1. and construct geometric shapes Pattern blocks El@+ !. the home.-. in a simple drawing in a set of cutouts. Baslc L l (Wsuallzatlon): Geomemc shapes are recognized on the m basis of their physical appearance as a whole.-&#' 2.

and so on j I 1 4. fold. grid paper. to describe geometric shapes and constructs verbally using appropriate standard and nonstandard language rn a cube "looks like a block. or tracing paper. model. Provide students opportunities1. by drawing figures by constru&ng figures -with sticks.8 LEARNING AND TEACHING GEOMETRY. to create shapesby copying figures on dot paper. to work on problems that can be solved by managing shapes. another triangle. color. Use two triangular shapes t make a rectangle. or by tracing. K-I2 I I 3. and tile in order to identify properties of figures and other geometric relationships fold a kite on a diagonal and examine the "fit..or a box" rn "wrnen"for angles 5. to measure. pattern blocks. o (tangrams)." 2. to describe a class of figures by its properties (charts. I I I L m l 1(Anaiysb): Form recedes and the properties of figures emerge. verbally.~4nr-t:~oboards circular geohaar4:. by . measuring. "property cards") I I I I . cut.cutouts and . and counting rn Find the area of a box top by tiling and counting. straws. or pipe a e a n e n or by tiling with manipulatives.

a 4. 8 "What's my nameN-reveal clues (properties) one by one. in regard to sides. pausing after each. . are different in regard to angles. (the diagonals are congruent.oUoa -< 0 "4 sides". . asking students to identify at each stage possible names for the shape. . to identify properties that can be used to characterize or contrast different classes of figures Ask. to empirically derive (from studying many examples) "rules" . until students can accurately identify the figure." Explore the relationship between diagonals and figures by joining two cardboard strips.THE VAN HlELE MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT . . to identify a shape from visual clues gradually reveal a shape. 8. how would you describe a [figure] to someone who has never seen one?" property cards 1- 1 4 1 L-7 Zg . "all sides equal" (7 6.Congrunt dngonob 1 4 I 4 m ldesdesd_- 4 nghtar+j oFsymmdry( 3. "Opposite sides equal describes . . . . property cards.9 "Without using a picture. A square is generated by the end points when . to sort and resort shapes by single attributes Sort cutouts of quadrilaterals by 0 -number of parallel sides -number of right angles 5. to identify and draw a figure given an oral or written description of its properties Teachers or students describe a figure verbally and ask for (all possible) figures with those properties.and generalizations From tiling and measuring many rectangles. . This can be done on an overhead. to compare shapes according to their characterizing properties Note how a square and a rhombus are alike. . 7. students see that "b x h" is a shortcut for adding the number of tiles. . piece of paper.

Working on a geoboard. Noncongruent diagonals generate . What was required in each transformation? to identify minimum sets of properties that describe a figure Students could compete and check each other in this. . Ancestry mappings: Use cards and arrows to disptay the "origins" or . looking for inclusions and implications U e property cards: s EzEa IODP*mllel] FEE- [2 a y u n t d q u r d s ] . 3. Ask students how they would describe a figure to someone. 4. . . (a rectangle). geometric relationships. Change the angle and the diagonals determine . to study relationships developed at level 1. determine the properties of trapezoids. and meet at right angles). to solve geometric problems that require knowing properties of figures.ilia:c . K-12 bisect each other. 9:' 't~. that is. fmd the sum of the angles in a scptagon. . &I2 (Informal Deduction): A network of relations begins to hnn. change a quadrilateral to a trapezoid.LEARNING AND T ~ ~ H I N G GEOMETRY. or insightful approaches Without measuring. relate this to known figures. Provide students opportunities1. cut-out shapes. to encounter and use appropriate vocabulary and symbols 11. trapezoid to parallelogram. Could they use fewer steps? Different steps? to develop and use defmitions A square is . . 5.[ m i Iqwnttrsdese~ -[I I - E l E OPP SlM plrdW] [2cargrucnt dl-1 1-1- 2.. (Insightful students wl "see" il triangles. to follow informal arguments to present informal arguments (using diagrams. 10.-lasses of objects From examples and nonexamples of trapezoids. .':~iscover pzoperties of uafan. parallelogram to rectangle. flow .) .

gram correctly r e h the converse? .THE VAN HIELE MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT 1 1 "family tree" of an idea-for example. sweep out two arcs of equal radii (as shown)." 6. Explain why the Line through the points of intersection of I . opposite sides parallel" or "4 sides. must " be given for this to be level 2. to solve problems where properties of figures and interrelationshipsare important A To construct the bisector of a line segment. "4 sides. W y ish a) A C Z BC b) L CAB a F CBA C) a A C E 2 ABCE A d ) AE EB Note: Reasons other than . 8. "It looks like . then the interior angles on the same side of the transversal are supplementary. to attempt to provide more than one approach or explanation Define a parallelogram in two ways (i.. - State the converse of the following statement and discuss its validity: 'f it's raining. to work with and discuss situations that highlight a statement and its converse Write the converse of this statement: If a transvtzsal intersects t o w parallel lines. Which dia.e. to follow deductive arguments. perhaps supplying a few "missing steps" Cis the center of the circle." I ' 9.the level-0 response. 7. Im wearing boots. . opposite sides congruent"). ''The exterior angle of a triangle equals the sum of the opposite interior angles..

" 2. Provide students opportunities1.. Discuss what you know about this figure. &finition. d) A square is a rhombus . . Which of the following statements is a postulate. to prow rigorously the relationships developed informally at level 2 . . try "saws. . b ) A square is a parallelogram . "The perpendicular bisector of the base of an isosceles triangle passes through the vertex of the triangle. identify what is known and what is to be proved or shown. etc.e. a definition? Why? a) Points that tie on the same line are called collinear. Do NOT complete the proof. (D) 4." "ladders. the Pythagorean theorem 8. (T) d ) The midpoint of a segment is said to bisect the segment. to identify what is given and what is to be proved in a problem For the following problem.. to use a variety of techniques of proof-for example. (PI c) Every segment has exactly one midpoint. a theorem. . 6. (Dl b ) D m points determine a Line. to demonstrate an understanding of the meaning of undefined term." form based on D c this figure. . . . transhrmations. to compare different proofs of a theorem-for example. then . use the properties of a rhombus). . coordinates. synthetic. to identrfy general strategies of proof I€a proof involves parallelism. . Lf z ." or rotations of 180". to idenhfy information implied by a figure or by given information Figure ABCD is a parallelogram. . theorem. K-U the arcs is the perpendicular bisector of the segment (i. to demonstrate an understanding of necessary and sufficient conditions Write a d4nition of a square that begins a) A square is a quadrilateral . c) A square is a rectangle . vectors 9. to prove unfamiliar relationships 7. postulate. Level 3 (Formal Deduction): The nature of deduction is understood.12 LEARNING AND TEACHING GEOMETRY. . Write a problem in "If . 5. 3..

4 Language. both inductively and deductively. The latter tactic is an example of the reduction of the content level. geometry is taught in a mechanical way. such as the coloring of angles in a-triangular grid (fig.n. These ideas are discussed further below.ved and why. Consider the fact that the sum of the angles of a triangle is 180". students are simply tqld the information." To be effective. ''The sum of the angles of a quadrilateral is 36V. Fig. they suggest that geometric activities should not reduce the level of the geometric content. for understanding the concept. Shelly announces. The "Phases of Learning" section presents guidelines on the sequencing and delivery of geometric activities within a level. materials should set the stage for Eurther learning. to think about geometric thinking The following situations involve deductive or inductive thinking. Such verbalization requires students to articulate con- . plays an important role in the development of geometric thinking. 1. 1. b) After measuring the angles in a number of quadrilaterals. Identify which type of thinkinp: is i. Thus. Sandy is'a godo. An additional bonus with this particular development is that the same structure can be reused to demonstrate that the measure of the exterior angle of a triangle equals the sum of the measures of the two interior angles. Level-1 activities.4) and the extension of that activity to identifying parallel lines in the grid. as well as thoughtfully chosen materials. In particular. The "Properties of the Model" section also provides teaching advice. a) All goats have a beard.vol. Too often. that whenever possible. It is essential that children talk about their linguistic associations for words and symbols and that they use that vocabulary. and that language is important in the development and assessment of geometric understandings. Sandy has a beard. this fact is established by generalizing after measuring the angles of a few triangles. or worse.THE VAN HIELE MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT 13 10. Insight into the reason why the angle sum is 180" is obtained from the grid work and concomitantly the groundwork is laid for the formal proof at level 3. provide the student with a powerful means. Frequently. activities like the preceding ones need to be placed in a context.

children should be encouraged to express their geometric understandings in their own terms-"corner" for angle. For example. for example. consider responses to the questions "What type of figure is . K-12 sciously what might otherwise be vague and undeveloped ideas. Gradually. It is not enough. sometimes should be modeled and encouraged. At all levels. 1985. Teacher questioning is a crucial factor in directing student thinking. . p. "sianty" for the sides uf a ?ar&elogram. necessary and sufficient. terms such as all.. converse. "straight" for parallel lines. some children say that is a right angle but that ( L A is a left angle. some. children should be introduced to standard terminology and encouraged to use it precisely. . . children have incorrectly focused on orientation as a determining characteristic." Level 3 would use and stress the meanings of ariom. It can also serve to reveal immature or misconceived ideas. postulate. questioning is an important assessment tool. and so on. theorem. As an example. . Children who operate with notions like these are limiting their development. Through conversations. (Perhaps they were shown figures only in "standard" position. Some say this shape ) is a square but when turned 45 degrees ( 0 ). How do you know?" Students at each level are able to respond this? "rectangle" to the h t question.) Examples of level- 0 . For growth to occur. The teacher's qse of language is also important. For example. in work on level 1. Level-2 phrases include "it foilows that . then.) They are interpreting the terms right angle and square to have a narrow meaning. it is essential to match instruction with the student's level. newl. . however. (If a student does not know how to name the figure. Just because children are using a word does not mean they attach the same meaning to it as their listener. Thus teachers must learn to identify students' levels of geometric thought. In each example.14 LEARNING AM3 TEACHING GEOMETRY. allowing a sufficient response-time and discussing the quality of the answers are methods that take into account level of thinking" (Geddes et al. it no longer is one. always. for students at level 2 to be asked what is the sum of the angles of a pentagon. . he or she is not at Ievel 0 for rectangles." and "if. Initially. They should be challenged to explain why and to think about their explanation--could it be shown another way? "Raising appropriate questions. asking children how they "know" is important. Because the nature of a student's geometric explanations reflects that student's level of thinking. 242). teachers can uncover misconceptions and incomplete notions as well as build on correct perceptions.

." (Properties are listed. Wiam E "Gtomc~. s 1973. 1985.and J.) : Level 1 "Four sides. two shorter sides. two long sides. "Cbazactcrizing the van Hiele Levels of Development in Gwmeny. The need now is for classroom teachers and researchers to refine the phases of learning. Instruction rather than maturation is highlighted as the most significant factor contributing to this development. Level 0 "It looks like one!" or "Because it looks like a door. 1982. develop van Hiele-based materials. Burger and Shaughnessy 1986.) Lwel 3: "This can be proved if I know this figure is a parallelogram and that one angle is a right angle.Reidel.) Additional examples of level-specificstudent behaviors can be found in An Investigation of the van Hiele Model of Thinking in Geometry among Adolescenu (Geddes et al. Mayberry 1981. Research has supported the accuracy of the model for assessing student understandings of geometry (Burger 1985. she would . 62-78) and in "Characterizing the van Hiele Levels of Development in Geometry" (Burger and Shaughnessy 1986. It has also shown that materials and methodology can be designed to match levels and to promote growth through the levels (Burger 1985. Freudenthal. Shaughnessy and Burger 1985). 1982. Netherlands: D. Geddes et al."Arithmeiic Tcockr 32 (February 1 8 ) 32-56. Hans. and Tischler 1985. closed. indicate that she knows it is redundant in this example to say that opposite sides are congruent. In parentheses is a brief explanation of why the statement reflects the assigned level. opposite sides parallel. Michael Shaughnessy. pp. The model of geometric thought and the phases of learning developed by the van Hieles propose a means for idenhfying a student's level of geomemc maturity and suggest ways to help students to progress through the levels." J o d Jbr Rumrch in Mathemnricr Ehconon 1 (January 7 1986): 31-48. Usiskin 1 8 ) 92.) Level 2: "It is a parallelogram with right angles.Burger and Shaughnessy 1986." (The student seeks to prove the fact deductively. four right angles . and Tichler 1985. 95: Burger. Geddes. and implement those materials and philosophies in the classroom setting. Geddes et al. k h m a n k s a an Educahnal Tak. Geddes." (The answer is based on a visu:. pp. Dardrecht. Shaughnessy and Burger 1985. . William E. REFERENCES Burger. Fuys. Fuys.specific responses to the second question are given below. ." (The student attempts to give a minimum number of properties. If queried. redundancies are not seen.~ model. 41-45). Geometric thinking can be accessible to everyone. .