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.
Kristen Lew and Juan Pablo Mejía-Ramos
Kristen Lew, Timothy Patrick Fukawa-Connelly, Juan Pablo Mejía-Ramos and Keith Weber
We describe a case study in which we investigate the effectiveness of a lecture in advanced mathematics. We first videorecorded a lecture delivered by an experienced professor who had a reputation for being an outstanding instructor. Using video recall, we then interviewed the professor to determine the ideas that he intended to convey and how he tried to convey these ideas in this lecture. We also interviewed 6 students to see what they understood from this lecture. The students did not comprehend the ideas that the professor cited as central to his lecture. Based on our analyses, we propose 2 factors to account for why students did not understand these ideas.