Wim Van Dooren#


Wim Van Dooren obtained his Master’s degree in Educational Sciences (specializing in Instructional Science and School education) at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in 2000. Between 2000 and 2005, he received a scholarship from the Science Foundation Flanders. In that period, he worked at the Centre for Instructional Psychology and Technology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, where he obtained his PhD in Educational Sciences in 2005 under the supervision of Prof. Lieven Verschaffel and Prof. Dirk Janssens. In 2005 he received the EARLI Erik De Corte award for Young and Promising European Scholar in the Science of Learning and Instruction.
After a postdoctoral period (with a scholarship from the Science Foundation Flanders), he became an Assistant Professor in 2009. His major courses are Advanced Topics in Instructional Psychology (in the Master programme of Instructional Sciences), Didactics of Mathematics (in the bachelor programme in Instructional Science), and an introductory course in Learning and Instruction (in the mathematics and science teacher education programme).


Wim Van Dooren’s main research focus is on mathematical problem solving and the acquisition of problem solving skills. Theoretically, he tries to combine insights from the field of cognitive psychology, general educational psychology, content-specific theories originating in the field of mathematics education, and socio-culturally oriented views on teaching and learning.
He has done research on problem solving in various domains of mathematics, such as geometry, algebra, probabilistic reasoning, and statistics. His main interest is in the solving of arithmetic word problems. This research has focused on various age groups (5-year olds until adults). One of his main interests is in the tension between routine and adaptive expertise in problem solving, and in the inclination of students (and people in general) to rely on heuristic or intuitive rather than analytic reasoning when solving mathematical problems. In a related line of research, he uses a conceptual change theoretical approach to investigate how previously acquired knowledge and everyday knowledge may interfere in adequate mathematical learning and reasoning. Recently, he also investigates the role of external representations in the teaching and learning of mathematics, and more particularly the effect of including multiple external representations, and the flexible choice by a problem solver among multiple representations.
Wim Van Dooren is/has been the (co)supervisor of 4 PhD candidates and 25 master thesis students working on these topics, and he has published over 50 scholarly articles and book chapters in the field.
He is actively involved in scientific organisations such as the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME) and the European Association for Reseach on Learning and Instruction (EARLI), and is the the coordinator of the EARLI Special Interest Group on Conceptual Change.


  • Van Dooren, W., De Bock, D., Janssens, D., & Verschaffel, L. (2008). The linear imperative: An inventory and conceptual analysis of students’ over-use of linearity. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 39(3), 311–342.
  • Van Dooren, W., De Bock, D., Hessels, A., Janssens, D., & Verschaffel, L. (2005). Not everything is proportional: Effects of age and problem type on propensities for overgeneralization. Cognition and Instruction, 23(1), 57–86. DOI: 10.1080/07370008.2010.488306

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