Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Patricia Moyer-Packenham


Beth MacDonald

Third Advisor:

Jessica Shumway


Logical statements are prevalent in mathematics, the sciences, law, and many areas of everyday life. The most common logical statements are conditionals, which have the form “If H..., then C...,” where “H” is a hypothesis (or condition) to be satisfied and “C” is a conclusion to follow. Reasoning about conditionals is a skill that is only superficially understood by most individuals and depends on four main conditional contexts (e.g., intuitive, abstract, symbolic, or counterintuitive). The purpose of this study was to test a theory about the effects of context ordering on reasoning about conditionals. To test the theory, the researcher developed, tested, and revised a virtual manipulative educational mathematics application, called the Learning Logic App.

This study employed a convergent parallel mixed methods design to answer an overarching research question and two subquestions. The overarching research question was “How does the order of teaching four conditional contexts influence reasoning about conditionals?” The two subquestions examined this influence on reasoning in terms of performance and perceptions. This study involved two phases. During Phase I, 10 participants interacted with the Learning Logic App in a clinical setting. The researcher used information gathered in Phase I to revise the Learning Logic App for Phase II. During Phase II, 154 participants interacted with the Learning Logic App in a randomly assigned context ordering in an online setting. In both phases, the researcher collected quantitative and qualitative data. After independent analyses, the researcher made meta- inferences from the two data strands. The results of this study suggest that context ordering does influence learners’ reasoning. The most beneficial context ordering for learners’ performance was symbolic-intuitive-abstract-counterintuitive. The most beneficial context ordering for learners’ perceptions was intuitive-abstract-counterintuitive-symbolic. Based on these results, the researcher proposed a new context ordering: symbolic-intuitive-abstract-counterintuitive-symbolic. This progression incorporates a catalyst at the beginning (symbolic context) which aids the learner in reassessing their prior knowledge. Then, the difficulty of the contexts progresses from easiest to hardest (intuitive-abstract-counterintuitive-symbolic). These findings are important because they provide an instructional sequence for teaching and learning to reason about conditionals that is beneficial to both learners’ performance and their perceptions.