Graphical Effects in Learning Logic: Reasoning, Representation and Individual Differences

Richard Cox, Keith Stenning, Jon Oberlander

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Hyperproof is a computer program created by Barwise and Etchemendy for teaching logic using multimodal graphical and sentential methods, inspired by their theories of heterogeneous reasoning (Barwise and Etchemendy 1994). Elsewhere, we have proposed a theory of the cognitive impact of assigning information to different modalities (Stenning and Oberlander 1992). Our view is that where diagrams are advantageous, it is becausethey enforce the representation of information, leading to weak expressiveness, thereby facilitating inference. The present study tests and develops these claims by comparing the effects of teaching undergraduate logic classes using Hyperproof and a control syntactic teaching method. Results indicate that there is significant transfer from the logic courses to logical and analytical reasoning problems. There are also significant interactions between theoretically motivated pre-course aptitude measures and teaching method; the interactions influence post-course reasoning performance in transfer domains. Hyperproof boosts students previously weak on items which benefit from diagram use, whereas the syntactic course appears to degrade the same group of students’ graphical strategies. As well as being theoretically interesting, these results provide support for the important practical conclusion that individual differences in aptitude should be taken into account in choosing teaching technique.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Sixteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
EditorsAshwin Ram, Kurt Eiselt
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)0-8058-1803-0
Publication statusPublished - 1994
EventSixteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society - Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Duration: 13 Aug 199416 Aug 1994


ConferenceSixteenth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAtlanta, Georgia


  • graphical effect
  • individual difference
  • present study test
  • interaction influence post-course reasoning
  • pre-course aptitude measures
  • control syntactic teaching method
  • undergraduate logic class
  • significant interaction
  • sentential method
  • heterogeneous reasoning
  • different modality
  • significant transfer
  • computer program
  • weak expressiveness
  • cognitive impact
  • analytical reasoning problem


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