Understanding and Teaching the Intuitive Mind: Student and Teacher Learning, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Understanding and Teaching the Intuitive Mind

Student and Teacher Learning, 1st Edition

Edited by Bruce Torff, Robert J. Sternberg


286 pages

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The intuitive mind is a powerful force in the classroom and often an undetected one. Intuitive conceptions--knowledge or knowledge-structures that individuals acquire and use largely without conscious reflection or explicit instruction--sometimes work to facilitate learning in the classroom and other contexts. But learning may also be impeded by intuitive conceptions, and they can be difficult to dislodge as needed. The literatures in psychology and education include a large and diverse body of theory and research on intuitive conceptions, but this work is limited in some respects. This volume contributes in four ways to overcome these limitations. Understanding and Teaching the Intuitive Mind: Student and Teacher Learning:

* pulls together diverse theoretical and methodological approaches to the origin, structure, function, and development of intuitive conceptions;

* explores a diversity of academic disciplines--paying equal attention not only to mathematics and science, the fields in which intuitive concepts have been studied most extensively, but also to the social sciences, arts, and humanities;

* explicitly links theory and research to educational implications and classroom applications; and

* focuses not only on students' intuitive conceptions but also on teachers' intuitive beliefs about learning and teaching.

Although the viewpoints of the contributors are diverse, they share the belief that educational practices have much to gain by systematic studies of the intuitive learner and teacher. This volume offers state-of-the-art, research-based information and support for psychologists, teacher educators, educational administrators, teachers, prospective teachers, and others who seek to develop educational practices that are cognizant of (and responsive to) the intuitive conceptions of students and teachers.


"The editors of this interesting book, Bruce Torff and Robert J. Sternberg, have made a great job in presenting a rich approach to the problem and how to improve educational practices by knowing theoretical descriptions and research results on how learners and teachers 'use' or 'consider' intuitive conceptions….The ten papers included in the publication are well presented, contain a good sample of results and references are clearly developed, so the book may be useful for a wide range of people interested in this topic."

Zentralblatt MATH

"The collection makes important contributions to learning and instruction by reporting new empirical studies that throw light on the kinds of beliefs and lay theories that children and students import into mathematics, history and art classrooms among others. Secondly, it extends the growing body of work on how teachers' lay beliefs about the mind and learning influence classroom practice….the book makes an important contribution to the growing body of work on the unintended effects of teaching and learning….I would recommend the book to psychologists interested in learning and instruction…"

British Journal of Educational Psychology

"At the intersection of developmental, educational, and cognitive psychology….The first of its kind to collect disparate literatures on misconceptions/intuitive misconceptions….The need is high for this unique volume."

Scott Paris

University of Michigan

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface. Part I: Introduction. B. Torff, R.J. Sternberg, Intuitive Conceptions Among Students and Teachers. Part II: Intuitive Conceptions and Student Learning. T. Ben-Zeev, J. Star, Intuitive Mathematics: Theoretical and Educational Implications. J.V. Wertsch, J.L. Polman, The Intuitive Mind and Knowledge About History. N.H. Freeman, M.J. Parsons, Children's Intuitive Understandings of Pictures. D.P. Fromberg, The Intuitive Mind and Early Childhood Education: Connections With Chaos Theory, Script Theory, and Theory of Mind. Part III: Intuitive Conceptions and Teacher Learning. H. Patrick, P.R. Pintrich, Conceptual Change in Teachers' Intuitive Conceptions of Learning, Motivation, and Instruction: The Role of Motivational and Epistemological Beliefs. A.W. Hoy, P.K. Murphy, Teaching Educational Psychology to the Implicit Mind. L.M. Anderson, Nine Prospective Teachers and Their Experiences in Teacher Education: The Role of Entering Conceptions of Teaching and Learning. S. Strauss, Folk Psychology, Folk Pedagogy, and Their Relations to Subject Matter Knowledge. D.R. Olson, S. Katz, The Fourth Folk Pedagogy.

About the Series

Educational Psychology Series

This series has several goals:

  • to present the most significant contemporary theory and research on psychology as it is applied to education at all levels – elementary; secondary, and tertiary;
  • to present this research in a way that is relevant and accessible to both psychologists and educators;
  • to explore new ideas in instruction and assessment that are grounded in theory and tested in classrooms;
  • to inform and influence educational policy through the establishment of a solid base of theory and research rather than through the fads and fashions that come and go with the times but that have no base in the psychology of instruction;
  • to achieve further integration in the perspectives of education and psychology, as well as to draw together various fields of psychology in order to capitalize on their potential contributions to educational outcomes;
  • to explore notions of school reform that are linked to our knowledge about students’ learning, thinking, and motivation; and
  • to disseminate ideas from around the world, including Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as the Americas.


This series will publish monographs and edited books that advance these goals through new and innovative contributions to educational psychology. Edited books must have a sense of coherence, contain unifying introductory and concluding chapters, and be internally consistent in scope and level of writing.

Potential authors and volume editors are encouraged to take risks and to explore with the series editors nontraditional points of vie wand methodologies. Interdisciplinary contributions involving theory and methodology from diverse fields, such as computer science, philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, and neuroscience, are especially welcome, but all contributions must be readable and interesting to psychologists and educators of varying backgrounds. Authors and editors from all around the world are encouraged to submit proposals.

Examples of topics that would be of interest include, but are not limited to, creative techniques for instruction, nontraditional forms of assessment, student learning, student motivation, organizational structure and climate, teacher education, new conceptions of abilities and achievement, analyses of cognitive structures and representations in various disciplines, expertise in teaching and administration, use of technology in the schools, at-risk children, adult education, and styles of learning and thinking.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Psychology