Philosophy's Role in Characterizing the Nature of Educational Psychology and Mathematics

Jonna M. Kulikowich, Thomas C. DeFranco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Philosophical inquiry promotes questioning and debate. We examine the role of philosophical inquiry in characterizing the nature of educational psychology and mathematics. These two domains were chosen because learning theorists often perceive them as different because of the types of problems solved within each field. Educational psychology is seen as ill structured because problems are solved heuristically. Mathematics is often perceived as well structured because problems are solved algorithmically. Given an exploration of each domain in terms of their philosophical foundations, however, arguably both domains are both complex and ill structured. There are as many unanswered questions in mathematics as there are in educational psychology. We examine the manner in which philosophical and theoretical debate plays a role in shaping educational psychology and then conduct a parallel survey of debate in mathematics. We conclude that philosophical inquiry deepens understanding of the concepts and refines the practices within each field. Questioning and debate contribute to expertise and the ability to communicate a system of beliefs about what it is to be knowledgeable in each field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-156
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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