Proof serves many purposes in mathematics. In this qualitative study of 17 high school mathematics teachers, we found that these teachers perceived that two of the most important purposes for proof in school mathematics were (a) to enhance students’ mathematical understanding and (b) to develop generalized thinking skills that were transferable to other fields of endeavor. We found teachers were divided on the characteristics (or features) of proofs that would serve these purposes. Teachers with less experience tended to believe that proofs in the high school should adhere to strict standards of language and reasoning while teachers with more experience tended to believe that proofs based on concrete or visual features were well suited for high school mathematics. This study has implications for teacher preparation because it appears that there is a wide variation in how teachers think about proof. It seems likely that students would experience proof very differently merely because they were seated in different classrooms.
- Advanced mathematical thinking
- Mathematical proof
- Mathematics education
- Secondary mathematics
ASJC Scopus subject areas