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www.elsevier.com/locate/learninstruc

Constantinos Christou*, Eleni Papageorgiou

University of Cyprus, Cyprus

Abstract

Based on a synthesis of the literature in inductive reasoning, a framework for prescribing and assessing mathematics inductive

reasoning of primary school students was formulated and validated. The major constructs incorporated in this framework were stu-

dents’ cognitive abilities of finding similarities and/or dissimilarities among attributes and relations of mathematical concepts. The

framework was validated through data obtained from 135 fifth grade students in Cyprus, using confirmatory factor analysis, and

proved to be consistent with the data, leading to the conclusion that six distinct cognitive processes aiming at detecting similarity

and/or differences in attributes and relations are used for the solution of inductive mathematics problems dealing with attributes or

relationships. The framework provides a theoretical foundation for curriculum designers and for assessment programs in mathe-

matics inductive reasoning.

Ó 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Inductive reasoning is considered to be the general (g) part of human intelligence (Carroll, 1993) underlying

performance on complex tasks from diverse content domains. It is considered to consist of the educative ability,

that is, the ability to generate the ‘‘new’’ e the productive characteristic of human beings (De Koning, Sijtsma, &

Hamers, 2003; Sternberg & Gardner, 1983). Thus, in recent proposals, the importance of having all students develop

an awareness of inductive reasoning and applications has been recognized (Department of Education and Science and

the Welsh Office, 1991; NCTM, 2000). As a result of this emphasis on reasoning in the school curriculum, there is

a need for further, ongoing research on the structure of inductive reasoning as well as its teaching and learning (Ha-

verty, Koedinger, Klahr, & Alibali, 2000). Moreover, a number of researchers (Fennema et al., 1996) have suggested

ways to bridge the gap between learning and teaching by advocating the importance of instructional frameworks in

which research-based knowledge of students’ thinking is used to inform classroom instruction. In the absence of such

an instructional framework to inform classroom instruction (Fennema et al., 1996), mathematics programs for young

children may be ineffective. Thus, this study addresses the development and validation of such a framework for

inductive reasoning instruction.

* Corresponding author. University of Cyprus, Department of Education, P.O. Box 20537, Nicosia 1678, Cyprus. Tel.: þ357 22 753728;

fax: þ357 22 374141.

E-mail address: edchrist@ucy.ac.cy (C. Christou).

0959-4752/$ - see front matter Ó 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2006.11.009

56 C. Christou, E. Papageorgiou / Learning and Instruction 17 (2007) 55e66

In this study, we sought to propose and validate a new framework, which describes the components of students’

abilities in mathematics inductive reasoning (Klauer & Phye, 1994). The framework is based on Klauer’s training ap-

proach to inductive reasoning. Although Klauer’s model involves general psychological tasks of inductive reasoning,

the proposed framework provides an integral approach to mathematics inductive reasoning tasks. Specifically, based

on psychological research into children’s thinking in general inductive tasks, this study attempted to (a) develop an

initial framework for describing and predicting how children think in inductive mathematics situations, (b) refine

and validate the framework using a test of inductive mathematics reasoning involving problems that require students

to apply inductive processes.

Thus, the focus of our study was on the integration of various mathematics problem types into one common clas-

sification scheme prescribed by a framework. To this end, in the theoretical background of the study, we first provide

a review of recent research on inductive reasoning, and we then proceed to summarize Klauer’ model. This is followed

by a description of the components and the structure of the proposed framework. In Section 5 some details about the

validation process of the framework are provided. Sections 6 and 7 present the statistical analysis undertaken for the

justification of the components of the inductive reasoning framework and the importance of the proposed framework

in the development of instructional programs in mathematics.

3. Theoretical considerations

Reasoning, in general, involves inferences that are drawn from principles and from evidence, whereby the individ-

ual either infers new conclusions or evaluates proposed conclusions from what is already known (Johnson-Laird &

Byrne, 1993). There are two main types of reasoning, namely deductive and inductive reasoning. Whereas deductive

reasoning denotes the process of reasoning from a set of general premises to reach a logically valid conclusion, in-

ductive reasoning is the process of reasoning from specific premises or observations to reach a general conclusion

or an overall rule. Deductive inferences therefore draw out conclusions which are implicit in the given information,

while inductive inferences add information (Klauer, 2001).

This paper deals only with the mathematical inductive reasoning of students in primary education. While mathe-

matical induction contains information about all instances in a class (e.g., the class of all positive integers) and there-

fore concludes with certainty, the inductive reasoning of primary school students usually refers to the given instances

and does therefore reach conclusions that are not necessarily valid for all possible instances (Sternberg & Gardner,

1983). Nevertheless, in many cases the inductive inferences are valid and provide an important basis for the under-

standing of regularities in mathematics. Regularities as well as uniformities are the basis for the generation of concepts

and categories, which play a fundamental role in our everyday life (Klauer & Phye, 1994). The focus of our study is on

the inductive reasoning required by primary mathematics curricula and by most intelligence tests (e.g. analogies, clas-

sifications, series completion problems, matrices).

Neubert and Binko (1992) connected inductive reasoning in mathematics with finding patterns and relations among

numbers and figures. This idea goes back to work of Pólya (1967), who defined inductive reasoning as the natural

reasoning that allows us to acquire scientific knowledge. Pólya (1967) also considered inductive reasoning in math-

ematics teaching as a method to discover properties from phenomena and to find the regularities in a logical way. In-

ductive reasoning as a method involves four steps: experiences with particular cases, conjecture formulation,

conjecture proof and verification with new particular cases (Pólya, 1967). Based on these steps, Cañadas (2002) de-

veloped a system consisting of the thinking actions of secondary education students when they solve proof problems

and related inductive reasoning to the justification of a statement where inductive reasoning appears.

Although in most elementary mathematics problems, the student’s task is to discover the pattern of relations or

attributes among several elements given in a problem, the stimulation of thinking skills is not pursued explicitly. It

is usually assumed that these skills develop as a by-product of the teaching of content as defined in traditional curricula

for different subjects (Hamers, De Koning, & Sijtsma, 1998). As a result, most students cannot comprehend the basic

concepts of mathematics and have a lot of difficulties in solving problems (Cummins, 1992; Haverty et al., 2000; Koe-

dinger & Anderson, 1998). The latter is demonstrated in a number of studies and especially in international research

evaluations such as OECD (2004) and TIMSS 2003 (Mullis, Martin, Gonzales, & Chrostowski, 2004). To remedy this

evident backwardness, in the present study, we proposed a framework that can be used for both the instruction and the

C. Christou, E. Papageorgiou / Learning and Instruction 17 (2007) 55e66 57

assessment of inductive reasoning. This framework derives from a range of psychology programs for the training of

thinking developed in the last decade (Hamers et al., 1998; Klauer, 2001).

Klauer’s training program was based on an analytic definition of inductive reasoning (Klauer & Phye, 1994). In

particular, Klauer defined inductive reasoning as the systematic and analytic comparison of objects aiming at discov-

ering similarities and/or differences between attributes or relations (Klauer, 1988, 1992, 1999). This definition results

in the identification of six classes of inductive reasoning problems (generalization, discrimination, cross-classification,

recognizing relationships, differentiating relationships and system construction), according to the kind of the induc-

tive cognitive processes required for their solution. Each problem format is paired with a specific cognitive operation

that is necessary to solve the problem (see Klauer, Willmes, & Phye, 2002).

The six classes of inductive problems are interrelated since all of them can be solved by a core strategy of inductive

reasoning, namely the process of comparing (Hamers & Overtoom, 1997; Klauer, 1988, 1992, 1999). Through com-

paring, an individual compares objects with respect to their common attributes or relations. After evaluating all objects

regarding the similarities and dissimilarities of all attributes or relations, the problem solver is expected to discover the

rule and consequently the solution of a problem. The comparison strategy assumes that the problem solver is able to

recognize all attributes or relations inherent in the problem.

Table 1 presents the six types of inductive reasoning problems, as delineated by Klauer (1999). Table 1 also shows

three classes of tasks for grouping objects on the basis of attributes (generalization, discrimination, and cross-classi-

fication) and three classes of tasks for seriation of objects based on their mutual relations (recognition of relations,

differentiation of relations, and system construction).

The literature does not provide any coherent picture of the reasoning processes required for the solution of the prob-

lems included in specific academic subject areas, such as mathematics. For instance, Klauer’s model has been devel-

oped in a general content domain, and it is not clear whether it is applicable to mathematics. Considering the

importance of inductive reasoning in mathematics education (Cañadas, 2002; NCTM, 2000), there is a need for

a framework of cognitive processes that can be used in fostering children’s inductive reasoning ability in mathematics.

In the present study, the proposed framework involved both the mathematical structure of inductive reasoning and the

cognitive processes of inductive reasoning development.

On the basis of the research in psychological inductive reasoning, we assume that inductive reasoning is multifac-

eted and develops slowly over time. To capture the manifold nature of inductive reasoning and its interconnections, we

incorporated three key cognitive processes that are important for solving inductive problems: similarity, dissimilarity,

and integration as they are explained in the next section.

Table 2 specifies the abilities considered to be sufficient to discover a generalization or to refute an overgeneral-

ization. As highlighted in Table 2, these abilities correspond to the processes of similarity, dissimilarity, and integra-

tion and are associated with two levels: the level of attributes and the level of relations. The levels of attributes and

relations specify the aspects which are compared. Similarities and dissimilarities at the nominal level are recognized

by comparing attributes of elements, for example, shape or colour (De Koning et al., 2003). Comparisons at the ordinal

and the ratio level involve relationships among elements, for example, with respect to size and number. In other words,

attributes can be conceived as one-place predicate, while relations can be conceived as two or more-place predicates

(Klauer et al., 2002). For example, consider the following problems:

Table 1

Klauer’s taxonomy of classes of tasks of inductive reasoning

Attributes Relations

Item-class Item-types Item-class Item-types

Similarity Generalization Class formation Recognition of relations Order series

Class expansion Series completion

Finding common attributes Simple analogies

Dissimilarity Discrimination Identifying irregularities Differentiation of relations Disrupted series

Dissimilarity and similarity Cross classification Matrix-figures System construction Matrix-figures with

complex analogies

58 C. Christou, E. Papageorgiou / Learning and Instruction 17 (2007) 55e66

Table 2

The inductive processes of similarity, dissimilarity, and integration

Construct Level 1: attributes Level 2: relations

Similarity Recognition of common attributes: Recognition of mathematical relations:

Finds an attribute that is common among numbers or shapes. Recognizes the relations that exist between pairs of

Selects a number or shape which belongs to a group of numbers figures or numbers and tests it on the next pair.

or shapes that share a common attribute. Completes series

Compares attributes of numbers or shapes by matching them Solves analogy problems

to other numbers or shapes that follow the same attribute.

Finds differences among numbers or shapes with respect Reorders numbers of a set in order to define a

to attributes correct series.

Excludes one number so that the remaining numbers

constitute the same pattern of relation.

Considers two or more attributes simultaneously Considers two or more relations in which similarity

or dissimilarity are to be verified

(a) ‘‘Find the common feature of the numbers so that they make up a group: 4, 16, 8, 32, 20, 100, 40’’, and

(b) ‘‘Find the missing number 3/6 ¼ 5/?’’.

In problem (a), students are asked to find the similarity among the numbers by finding a one-place predicate P(x),

which means that each number (x) has the attribute P (i.e., all numbers in the set are multiples of four). Problem (b) is

a simple proportional problem, where students are asked to consider a two-place predicate P0 (x,y). In this case, stu-

dents first need to realize that number x is linked with number y in the first ratio with the relation P0 (y is twice as x) and

then apply this relation to the second ratio.

Comparing attributes or relationships can be directed at finding similarities, dissimilarities, or both (integration).

This results in six (two types of level, attributes and relations, crossed with three types of processes, similarity, dis-

similarity and integration) types of inductive reasoning abilities which need to be developed. Each of the three cog-

nitive processes is examined below and is interpreted in the context of their presentations in the proposed framework.

In the proposed framework we have attempted to include situations in which the whole set of inductive mathemat-

ics problems such as classification, analogy, series and matrix can be used as the basis for determining inductive rea-

soning (De Koning et al., 2003). The proposed cognitive processes of similarity, dissimilarity and integration refer to

operations and problem solving skills that are suitable for the handling of different types of information, relations, and

problems and reflect the abilities shown in Table 1. The examples of problems in each cell of Table 3 correspond to the

abilities prescribed in Table 2 and have evolved from Klauer’s program on inductive reasoning and from problems

included in most mathematics textbooks.

4.1.1. Similarity

In our study, an understanding of similarity is exhibited at the attribute level by the ability of students to identify

similarities of attributes for different objects (numbers or shapes) and at the relations level by the ability of students to

identify similarities of relations (between numbers or objects). Three typical problem formats are included at the at-

tribute level: class formation, class expansion and finding common attribute problems (Klauer, 1999).

In class formation problems, the student has to note an attribute common to each object or number included in

a problem (see Table 3, problem P1). In class expansion problems, the student has to determine what attribute the

objects of a defined set have in common with only one object of another given set (see problem P2). In finding

C. Christou, E. Papageorgiou / Learning and Instruction 17 (2007) 55e66 59

Table 3

Examples of problem tasks in each process at the attribute and relation levels

Attributes Relations

Similarity P1: Class formation P4: Complete Series

together? number.

1 5 13 29 …

12 14 10 40 36

P2: Class expansion P5: Ordering series

Which of the numbers below

belongs to the group of Put the numbers in a right

numbers inside the circle? order to make up a sequence

12, 45, 49, 6

5, 25, 15, 10, 20

42 35

21 14

group because they have the right number

something in common. Find the Number machine

common feature of the Input Output

numbers. 3 7

4, 16, 8, 32, 20, 100, 40 5 ?

Find the number that does not (a) Exclude the number that

fit with the others disturbs the sequence.

1 1 2 3 5 7

9 21 12 15 (b) There is a number that

does not belong in the

3 5 9 sequence below. Correct the

wrong number in order to

make up the sequence.

4, 9, 16, 24, 36

Integration P9: Classification tasks P10: Matrices

represented by 2x2, 2x3, 3x3

matrices Complete the cell with the

Write the number 24 in the appropriate number.

appropriate cell.

8 4 2

6, 18, 12 16, 4, 8

24 12 6

15, 9, 3 7, 5, 25

72 36

common attribute problems, the student has to compare the properties of objects of a given set in order to distinguish

the common attribute in some of the given objects (see Table 3, problem P3) (Klauer, 1999; Klauer & Phye, 1994).

At the relational level, similarity includes problems of series completion, problems of ordering series, and analogy

problems (see Table 3). In series completion problems, the solution strategy is related to the sequential check on the

relationships that exist between the pairs of objects in a given series in order to complete the series with a missing

object (see Table 3, problem P4). Ordering series problems require the recognition of a pattern among objects in order

for them to be arranged sequentially (see Table 3, problem P5). Analogy problems require the determination of

60 C. Christou, E. Papageorgiou / Learning and Instruction 17 (2007) 55e66

a specific relationship between a given pair of objects. The solution strategy consists of mapping the relation onto an

incomplete pair in order to establish a new pair of objects that exhibit the same kind of relation (see Table 3, problem

P6) (Klauer & Phye, 1994).

4.1.2. Dissimilarity

Dissimilarity at the attribute level is related to noting differences among objects with respect to attributes, while dis-

similarity at the relations level is associated with the recognition of differences in relations. Only one typical item format

can be found, namely class exclusion, in the attribute level. In this case the problem requires the identification of the

object that does not fit in with the others (see Table 3, problem P7) (Klauer & Phye, 1994). In the relations level, the

problems can occur in two variations. In the first variation, one object must be excluded from the series as to keep

the relation or the pattern of the other numbers in the series (see Table 3, problem P8a). In the second variation, it is

necessary to correct members of a problem set in order to define a correct series (see Table 3, problem P8b).

4.1.3. Integration

Integration, at the attribute level, involves problems that require students to consider the attributes of at least two

objects simultaneously. All possible combinations will occur: similarity in both features, dissimilarity in both features,

similarity of one of the features with differences in the second feature, and vice versa. The solution strategy requires

a determination of both common and different attributes (Klauer & Phye, 1994).

At the relations level, inductive problems that are included in the integration subset are characterized by finding

either equivalence or dissimilarity of relations. There are at least two relations in which similarity or dissimilarity

is to be verified. Each pair of numbers or shapes has a common relation with at least one other pair and this relation

is dissimilar from a relation between at least one other pair. For a solution, it is necessary to recognize where each

relation is operational and where similar and dissimilar ones exist. That is, it is necessary for students to recognize

both relations and then to locate from available choices the correct object that systematically maintains the relations

constructed among numbers or shapes. In Table 3, problems 9 and 10 are indicative tasks for integration at the attri-

bution and relation levels, respectively.

To determine the structure of such a framework, it is necessary to define precisely what constructs are measured.

Since there was no previous work to guide this process, the basic principles were taken and modified from the theory of

psychological research in the area. Thus, the proposed framework presupposes that the whole set of inductive math-

ematics problems consists of problems that reflect the process of finding similarities and/or differences between at-

tributes and relations (Klauer & Phye, 1994; Van der Vijver, 1991). Specifically, we propose that mathematics

inductive reasoning can be described as a high order construct consisting of six first-order factors, three second-order

factors and one third-order factor. Fig. 1 makes easy the conceptualization of how the various components of inductive

reasoning relate to each other.

Similarity is a second-order factor (F7) consisting of two first-order factors: the similarity of attributes (F1) (Rec-

ognition of attributes) and the similarity of relations (F2) (Recognition of relations). In the same way, dissimilarity is

a second-order factor (F8) consisting of the first-order factors finding differences in attributes (F3) and differences in

relationships (F4). Integration (F9), as a second-order factor, consists of the similarity and differences in attributes

(F5) (Cross classification-attributes) and the similarity and differences in relationships (F6) (Cross classification-re-

lations). Finally, the third-order factor (F10) can be thought of as an abstract representation of the overall inductive

reasoning of students, since it captures the shared variance across similarity (F7), dissimilarity (F8), and integration

(F9) and indicates the multifaceted structure of inductive reasoning.

5. Method

5.1. Participants

Participants were 135 grade 5 students (69 females, 66 males), from seven existing classes of elementary schools in

an urban district of Cyprus. The mean age of students was 10 years and 6 months. The age of students at the time of

C. Christou, E. Papageorgiou / Learning and Instruction 17 (2007) 55e66 61

F1: Similarity

Attributes

F7: Similarity

F2: Similarity

Relations

F3: Dissimilarity

Attributes

F10: Inductive

F8: Dissimilarity

Reasoning

F4: Dissimilarity

Relations

F5: Integration

Attributes

F9: Integration

F6: Integration

Relations

Fig. 1. The basic theoretical structure of the proposed framework of inductive reasoning.

administering the test ranged from 10 years and 2 months to 11 years. The school sample is representative of a broad

spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds. In each intact class there were students of varying socioeconomic back-

grounds as well as students of different levels of achievement.

5.2. Instrument

Inductive mathematics reasoning was determined using a test that involved all six problem formats. The construc-

tion of the test involved two important phases: (a) Defining students’ abilities as those described in Table 2 and (b)

Assigning these abilities to problem tasks as shown in Table 3. Specifically, each student completed a written multiple

choice test, which contained 18 inductive reasoning mathematics problems. The test included nine problems, which

deal with grouping objects, in terms of their attributes, and nine problems dealing with the seriating of objects on the

basis of their relationships.

Three of the problems required detecting similarity of attributes (class formation items, class expansion items and

items concerned with finding common attributes among objects), three problems required detecting similarity of re-

lationships (series completion, ordering series and analogy items), three problems required detecting differences in

attributes (class exclusion items), three problems required detecting differences in relationships (disturbed series),

three problems required detecting similarity and differences in attributes (classification-attributes problems), and three

problems required detecting similarity and differences in relationships (classification-relations problems). Examples

of all problem formats used in the test are shown in Table 3.

The test was administered to students during regular class time, towards the end of the academic year 2003e2004.

Administration time was approximately 60 minutes. All students, prior to the test, had some experience in solving

simple analogy problems and in finding patterns in numbers and shapes.

62 C. Christou, E. Papageorgiou / Learning and Instruction 17 (2007) 55e66

To determine whether the factor structure of the inductive reasoning of students is consistent across groups, the

model was also subjected to a subgroups analysis. Male-only, female-only model fits were tested. Subgroup models

were assessed both for fit and consistency of standardized path coefficients.

The assessment of the proposed model was based on a confirmatory factor analysis, which is part of a more general

class of approaches called structural equation modeling. Structural equation modeling is a technique that has been

widely used for instrument validation and model testing (Bentler, 1995). EQS6.1 computer software (Bentler,

1995) was used to test for model fitting. In order to evaluate model fit, three fit indices were computed: the chi-square

to its degrees of freedom ratio (c2/df), the comparative fit index (CFI), and the root mean-square error of approxima-

tion (RMSEA). These indices recognized that the following needed to hold true in order to support model fit (Mar-

coulides & Schumacker, 1996): The observed values for c2/df should be less than 2, the values for CFI should be

higher than 0.9, and the RMSEA values should be close to or lower than 0.08. All were calculated by the maximum

likelihood method (Bentler, 1995), and the RMSEA and the CFI were calculated by a robust method, making them

relatively unaffected by violations of the multivariate normal assumption (Bentler & Dijkstra, 2000).

6. Results

The proposed framework consisted of six first-order factors, three second-order factors, and one third-order factor.

The first-order factors represented the cognitive processes required for the solution of inductive mathematics prob-

lems: similarity of attributes (F1), similarity of relationships (F2), differences in attributes (F3), differences in rela-

tionships (F4), similarity and differences in attributes (F5), and similarity and differences in relationships (F6). For

the analysis of the data we reduced the number of raw scores to a limited number of representative scores by selecting

three items for each of the six factors with the highest factor loadings. This was done to increase the reliability of the

measures fed into the analysis and hence to facilitate the identification of latent variables (Bentler, 1995). Thus, factors

F1eF6 were each measured by three tasks. Internal consistency reliability (coefficient alpha) was computed for the

test and for each factor separately. The coefficient alpha was 0.83 for the test with the 18 retained items in the analysis.

Coefficient alphas for the six factors subscales ranged from 0.71 (similarity of attributes) to 0.86 (differences in re-

lations). These alpha values were deemed acceptable and generally support the use of the test, taking into consider-

ation that the increase in sample size and in the number of items led to the improvement in reliability.

The above six factors were hypothesized to construct three second-order factors: the similarity in attributes or in

relationships factor (F7), the differences in attributes or in relationships factor (F8), and the similarity and differences

in attributes or in relationships factor (F9). These second-order factors are postulated to account for any correlation or

covariance between the first-order factors. Finally, the F7, F8 and F9 factors were hypothesized to construct a third-

order factor ‘‘inductive reasoning’’ (F10) that was assumed to account for any correlation or covariance between the

second-order factors.

Fig. 2 outlines the structural equation model with the latent factors (F1eF10) and their indicators. The descriptive-

fit measures indicated support for the hypothesized first, second and third-order latent factors (c2/df ¼ 1.04,

CFI ¼ 0.975, and RMSEA ¼ 0.02). The fit of the model was very good and the values of the estimates were high

in all cases, suggesting that the three-level architecture accurately captures the data. Specifically, the analysis showed

that each of the tasks used in measuring inductive reasoning in mathematics loaded adequately on each of the six hy-

pothesized cognitive processes (F1eF6), as shown in Fig. 2. This finding indicates that similarity of attributes, differ-

ences in attributes, similarity and differences in attributes, similarity of relationships, differences in relationships and

similarity and differences in relationships can represent six distinct functions of students’ thinking in solving inductive

mathematics problems. Factor loadings were large and statistically significant and the patterns of correlations were

logical and consistent. The distinctness of the factors, as shown by the fact that each item loads on only one first-order

factor and all loadings are statistically significant, provides evidence that the tasks used in the test are appropriate

measures of the latent factors. Furthermore, this means that similarity of attributes and similarity of relations are two

different processes which can be developed in programs of inductive reasoning. However, similarity of attributes

C. Christou, E. Papageorgiou / Learning and Instruction 17 (2007) 55e66 63

v1

0.86*

v2

0.65*

F1

0.97*

v3

0.73*

F7

0.76* v4

0.41*

F2 0.65* v5

0.43*

v6

0.79

v7

0.60*

F3 0.40* v8

0.38*

v9

0.50*

F10* 0.99 F8

0.54* v10

0.48*

F4 0.71* v11

0.73*

v12

0.99

v13

0.57*

F5 0.47* v14

0.78 0.59*

F9 v15

0.69

v16

0.40*

F6 0.85* v17

0.58*

v18

Fig. 2. The structure of the proposed framework of inductive reasoning with data parameters. F1eF10 correspond to the factors shown in Fig. 2.

V1eV18 correspond to the problems of the test.

and similarity of relations share some common characteristics which can be captured by the second-order factor called

similarity (F7). In the same way, these results indicate that finding differences in attributes is a process that is quite

different from finding differences in relations and can be measured by distinct items. The regression of these factors on

the ‘‘dissimilarity’’ factor is quite high (0.679 and 0.672, respectively), showing that the dissimilarity, as a second-

order factor, explains much of the covariance of finding differences (F2) in attributes and relations (F5). Finally, in-

tegration is the second-order factor, which expresses the covariation of similarity and dissimilarity of both attributes

and relations (r ¼ 0.805 and r ¼ 0.948, respectively).

64 C. Christou, E. Papageorgiou / Learning and Instruction 17 (2007) 55e66

These second-order factors were regressed on a third-order factor which concerned inductive mathematics prob-

lems. The regression indices of the similarity, dissimilarity, and integration were very high (0.992, 0.969, 0.986,

respectively) indicating that the three-level model, presented in Fig. 2, is consistent with the theory and can depict

the structure of the inductive reasoning of students.

Subgroup analyses were conducted to establish the validity of the proposed structure of inductive reasoning in

mathematics. The male-only, and female-only models all fit the data well. The low RMSEA values (0.04 and

0.005, for males and females, respectively) and the high CFI values (0.961 and 0.922, for males and females, respec-

tively) suggest a good fit for the respective models. In addition, all standardized coefficients were reasonable for both

groups and consistent between the overall model, the male-only model, and the female-only model (see Fig. 2, where

the numbers in parentheses show the parameters of male and female students, respectively).

7. Discussion

Inductive reasoning is considered as one of the most important goals of mathematics education, because of its fun-

damental role in the learning of mathematics and in problem solving situations (NCTM, 2000; Serra, 1989). Even

though research has demonstrated the importance of inductive reasoning in mathematics and problem solving, the

literature does not provide any framework of the types of cognitive processes and abilities used for the solution of

inductive mathematics problems. Hence, the goal of this study was two-fold: (a) to develop an initial framework

for describing and predicting the inductive reasoning of primary school students and (b) to validate this theoretical

framework of cognitive processes used in various types of inductive mathematics problems.

In addressing the need for research on children’s thinking that will inform instructional and assessment programs

(Fennema et al., 1996), the present study has developed and validated a framework for systematically describing child-

ren’s inductive reasoning in mathematics. The major constructs incorporated in this framework were the processes

used by Klauer (1999) in defining the inductive reasoning of students. Klauer’s model was modified so as to involve

the constructs of similarity, dissimilarity and integration, which reflected the whole spectrum of inductive reasoning

problems. Two levels, the attribute and the relations levels, representing the context of mathematics inductive situa-

tions were established. At each level, and across all three constructs, learning abilities were developed which have

been used to generate inductive tasks (see Table 1).

The validation of the framework was an evolutionary process which began with the development of the abil-

ities that are needed for the solution of problems of inductive reasoning. These abilities guided the development

of the tasks that were used to assess the inductive thinking of 149 fifth grade students. The proposed structure

proved to be consistent with the data, leading to the conclusion that six distinct cognitive processes aiming at

detecting similarity and/or differences in attributes and relations are used for the solution of inductive mathe-

matics problems dealing with attributes or relationships. Specifically, the framework generated by this study val-

idates the idea that inductive reasoning is a multifaceted construct consisting of three main processes: the

similarity, the dissimilarity, and the integration of similarities and differences. Each one of these processes is

composed of two main levels: the attributes and the relations. Both levels should be taken into consideration

since each one constitutes an important component of inductive reasoning. Although our analysis suggests

that the three cognitive processes generate a coherent picture of children’s inductive thinking at each level,

it is not reasonable to suggest that growth in children’s probabilistic thinking across cognitive processes will

necessarily be uniform. Nor is it appropriate to suggest that the inductive thinking of all students will follow

an ordered progression through the levels of attributes and relations.

In addition to extending the research literature on children’s thinking in inductive reasoning, this research may en-

hance information available to curriculum designers and teachers. Specifically, the framework may enable children’s

mathematics inductive thinking to be described and predicted in a coherent and systematic manner. Taking into

consideration that inductive reasoning ability improves the learning of mathematics, this model offers teachers

a framework of students’ thinking while solving various formats of inductive mathematics problems. It can thus be

used as a tool in teachers’ instruction for organizing instruction and building problem tasks.

C. Christou, E. Papageorgiou / Learning and Instruction 17 (2007) 55e66 65

From an assessment perspective, the framework appears to be valuable in providing teachers with useful back-

ground on students’ initial thinking and in enabling them to monitor general growth in inductive reasoning. Consistent

with the direction advocated by Fennema et al. (1996), the results of this study showed that the abilities mentioned and

the problem tasks involved in the framework could be used to develop an effective program in mathematics inductive

reasoning. Although it was not our intent in this study to make claims about specific aspects of an instructional pro-

gram, the results of the study provide preliminary evidence that the cognitive processes of similarity, dissimilarity or

both can be used by teachers in a way that may enhance students’ inductive reasoning. Accordingly, further research is

needed to evaluate the viability of using the framework for informing inductive reasoning instruction in regular class-

room situations. Such research would also provide opportunities for fine-tuning the framework and making it more

effective for generating instructional programs that build on students’ prior knowledge, foster their thinking through

problem tasks focused on the abilities needed for inductive reasoning, and monitor their understanding.

Although the students who participated in this study represented a broad spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds,

the size of the sample of students may limit the extent to which conclusions about the framework can be applied to

more culturally diverse populations of elementary school students. Further studies are needed to investigate whether

the framework is appropriate for children from other cultural and linguistic backgrounds and to determine the extent to

which it can actually be used to inform instructional and assessment programs in elementary school inductive reason-

ing. Additional research is also needed to extend the framework to incorporate children’s thinking in inductive think-

ing. Such research would result in a more pervasive description of children’s inductive thinking and could be even

more useful in informing instruction in elementary school mathematics inductive reasoning.

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