Critical thinking is a crucial component of learning, and mathematics offers a unique opportunity for students to exert control over their own thought processes. Students use mathematical reasoning during inquiry-based learning and problem solving. Inductive reasoning in mathematics supports students in learning to see patterns and make sense of a range of facts or concepts and the relationships between them. Students who engage in mathematical reasoning are better able to communicate their own understanding of mathematical concepts or ideas.22
Inductive reasoning tends to be the focus of elementary mathematics instruction, but teachers should also give students the opportunity to use deductive reasoningthat is, to use logic to show whether a pattern or relationship they discover in one instance is true in general. Facilitating discussions or written explanations in which students justify their thinking supports them in going beyond whether or not they got a correct answer.
For an example of how to promote mathematical reasoning, see the Find the Shape lesson plan.
< Previous| Next>