Dual representation and the linking of concrete and symbolic representations

David H Uttal*, Katherine O'Doherty, Rebecca Newland, Linda Liu Hand, Judy DeLoache

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


As the articles in this special issue suggest, linking concrete and abstract representations remains a fundamentally important challenge of cognition development and education research. This issue is considered from the perspective of the dual-representation hypothesis-all symbols are simultaneously objects in their own right and representations of something else-which can shed light on the challenges of linking concrete and symbolic representations. Manipulations that lead children to focus on the object properties may actually make it harder for them to focus on what the symbols represent. Conversely, decreasing children's attention to the object's properties can make it easier for them to establish a link between concrete and symbolic. The educational implications of the dual-representation hypothesis are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-159
Number of pages4
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Manipulatives
  • Mathematics
  • Representation
  • Symbols
  • Transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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