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The Proof Project:
Understanding Linkages Between Social And Cognitive Aspects Of Students’ Transition To Mathematical Proof


Principal Investigators
Maria Blanton, UMass Dartmouth
Despina Stylianou CCNY-CUNY (Co-PI)

National Science Foundation ROLE Grant
Award: REC-0337703

The Proof Project investigates the development of students’ understanding of proof during the undergraduate experience. Proof, arguably, lies at the heart of mathematics; it pervades all mathematical work and sets mathematics apart from all other sciences. As such, it is necessary for all students to develop both the understanding of concepts related to proof and the skills to read and write proofs. The Proof Project aims to examine the ways in which undergraduate students acquire and develop their understandings of the concept of proof and to provide suggestions for the types of curricular and pedagogical innovations that can make the mathematics of proof accessible to all students.

Main Goals

  • To understand undergraduate students’ knowledge of proofs and proving based on their experiences in grades K-12 mathematics;
  • To understand how their knowledge of proof and proving is connected to their beliefs about mathematics and whether they see this knowledge as connected to their classroom experiences;
  • To understand how psychological tools such as language mediate undergraduate students’ understanding of proof as they participate in whole-class and small-group conversations about proof.

Future Work

  • Identify the kinds of mathematics content that supports proof and argumentation at particular grade domains and how these forms of content are connected across these domains.
  • Understand the particular ways in which students across grades K-16 reason about proofs and build mathematical arguments.
  • Understand practices of teaching, particularly in the elementary and middle grades, that help students build deductive reasoning skills.
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