Preservice mathematics teachers are entrusted with developing their future students' interest in and ability to do mathematics effectively. Various policy documents place an importance on being able to reason about and prove mathematical claims. However, it is not enough for these preservice teachers, and their future students, to have a narrow focus on only one type of proof (demonstration proof), as opposed to other forms of proof, such as generic example proofs or pictorial proofs. This article examines the effectiveness of a course on reasoning and proving on preservice teachers' awareness of and abilities to recognize and construct generic example proofs. The findings support assertions that such a course can and does change preservice teachers' capability with generic example proofs.
Shiv Karunakaran, Ben Freeburn, Nursen Konuk, and Fran Arbaugh
Nicholas J. Gilbertson, Samuel Otten, Lorraine M. Males, and D. Lee Clark
For many American students, high school geometry provides their only focused experience in writing proofs (Herbst 2002), and proof is often viewed as the application of recently learned theorems rather than a means of establishing and understanding the truth of general results (Soucy McCrone and Martin 2009).
Angeliki Kolovou, Marja van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, and Olaf Köller
This study investigated whether an intervention including an online game contributed to 236 Grade 6 students' performance in early algebra, that is, solving problems with covarying quantities. An exploratory quasi-experimental study was conducted with a pretest-posttest-control-group design. Students in the experimental group were asked to solve at home a number of problems by playing an online game. Although boys outperformed girls in early algebra performance on the pretest as well as on the posttest, boys and girls profited equally from the intervention. Implications of these results for educational practice are discussed.
Jennifer Noll and J. Michael Shaughnessy
Sampling tasks and sampling distributions provide a fertile realm for investigating students' conceptions of variability. A project-designed teaching episode on samples and sampling distributions was team-taught in 6 research classrooms (2 middle school and 4 high school) by the investigators and regular classroom mathematics teachers. Data sources included survey data collected in 6 research classes and 4 comparison classes both before and after the teaching episode, and semistructured task-based interviews conducted with students from the research classes. Student responses and reasoning on sampling tasks led to the development of a conceptual lattice that characterizes types of student reasoning about sampling distributions. The lattice may serve as a useful conceptual tool for researchers and as a potential instructional tool for teachers of statistics. Results suggest that teachers need to focus explicitly on multiple aspects of distributions, especially variability, to enhance students' reasoning about sampling distributions.
Teachers can use data from a research project to enhance their classroom assessment practices.
Denisse R. Thompson, Sharon L. Senk, and Gwendolyn J. Johnson
This article addresses the nature and extent of reasoning and proof in the written (i.e., intended) curriculum of 20 contemporary high school mathematics textbooks. Both the narrative and exercise sets in lessons dealing with the topics of exponents, logarithms, and polynomials were examined. The extent of proof-related reasoning varied by topic and textbook. Overall, about 50% of the identified properties in the 3 topic areas were justified, with about 30% of the addressed properties justified with a general argument and about 20% justified with an argument about a specific case. However, less than 6% of the exercises in the homework sets involved proof-related reasoning, with developing an argument and investigating a conjecture as the most frequently occurring types of proof-related reasoning.
Reasoning in Algebra Classrooms
Daniel Chazan and Dara Sandow
Secondary school mathematics teachers are often exhorted to incorporate reasoning into all mathematics courses. However, many feel that a focus on reasoning is easier to develop in geometry than in other courses. This article explores ways in which reasoning might naturally arise when solving equations in algebra courses.