Give Me a Formula Not the Concept! Student Preference to Mathematical Problem Solving

Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study was to assess student preference for procedural (formula-driven) versus conceptual (concept-driven) approaches to solve mathematical problems. Additionally, we evaluated differences in preferences among students who performed above average and those who performed at or below average on simple arithmetic problems. Methods/Design and Sample: We used a single-factor (Instructional Approach: conceptual vs. procedural) between-subjects experiment. Instructional approach was manipulated using short embedded instructional videos. Students evaluated each approach on a five-point scale. Results: We found that students (above-average and average/below-average) preferred the procedural approach to the conceptual approach. Interestingly, however, although students preferred the procedural approach when first introduced to it, above-average students evaluated the conceptual approach more positively if they were unable to solve a problem correctly and were presented with additional conceptual instruction. On the other hand, there was no change in the evaluation of the procedural approach. Value to Marketing Educators: The findings of this study indicate that students develop mathematical knowledge and understanding differently. Faculty who teach courses with a high degree of mathematics concepts should work to provide multiple experiences that include both procedural and conceptual techniques to develop a holistic understanding of mathematics.

This document is currently not available here.