Linguistic Conventions of Mathematical Proof Writing at the Undergraduate Level: Mathematicians' and Students' Perspectives

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  • 1 Texas State University
  • 2 Rutgers University

This study examined the genre of undergraduate mathematical proof writing by asking mathematicians and undergraduate students to read 7 partial proofs and identify and discuss uses of mathematical language that were out of the ordinary with respect to what they considered conventional mathematical proof writing. Three main themes emerged: First, mathematicians believed that mathematical language should obey the conventions of academic language, whereas students were either unaware of these conventions or unaware that these conventions applied to proof writing. Second, students did not fully understand the nuances involved in how mathematicians introduce objects in proofs. Third, mathematicians focused on the context of the proof to decide how formal a proof should be, whereas students did not seem to be aware of the importance of this factor.

Contributor Notes

Kristen Lew, Department of Mathematics, Texas State University, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666;

Juan Pablo Mejía-Ramos, Department of Learning and Teaching, Rutgers University, 10 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, NJ 08901,

(Corresponding author is Lew author is Mejía-Ramos
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education


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