Elaborative and Integrative Thought Processes in Mathematics Learning

Susan Swing*, Penelope Peterson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We investigated the effects on achievement and retention of having students complete mathematics seatwork that required them to engage in elaborative and integrative processing. Fifth-grade students (N = 121) were assigned randomly within class to a cognitive-process treatment group, a fact-sheet group, or a control group. The seatwork problems of cognitive-process students included "prequestions" that required them to analyze, compare, and define problem information before answering a computational or conceptual exercise or story problem. These questions were designed to facilitate interconnection of the measurement knowledge being learned. Students were taught an 8-day mathematics unit in measurement by their regular teachers. Students completed achievement and retention tests of memory and understanding of measurement and were asked about their thought processes. Results showed that the cognitive process treatment had more beneficial effects on the achievement of higher ability students than of lower ability students. Comparisons involving only students who performed substantial amounts of experimental processing during seatwork provided evidence for the usefulness of elaborative and integrative processing for memory-based performance. Students' reports of processing were related to better memory and understanding scores on the tests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-66
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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