High school mathematics teachers’ perspectives on the purposes of mathematical proof in school mathematics

David S. Dickerson, Helen M. Doerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-733
Number of pages23
JournalMathematics Education Research Journal
Volume26
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • Advanced mathematical thinking
  • Mathematical proof
  • Mathematics education
  • Secondary mathematics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Education

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