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ERIC Number: ED501161
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Jul
Pages: 8
Abstractor: Author
A Procedural Route toward Understanding the Concept of Proof
Weber, Keith
International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Paper presented at the 27th International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education Conference Held Jointly with the 25th PME-NA Conference (Honolulu, HI, Jul 13-18, 2003), v4 p395-401
In this paper, I describe how undergraduates can develop their understanding of the concept of proof by viewing the act of proving as a procedure. Such undergraduates first understand proof as an algorithm, or a step-by-step mechanical prescription for proving certain types of statements. The students can then condense this algorithm into a processor, a shorter list of global, qualitative steps. By reflecting on the process, successful students can view proof as an argument, something that establishes the veracity of a mathematical statement. I illustrate a student in real analysis who followed this learning progression to learn the concept of proof by induction. Finally, I note that many students who view proof as a process fail to ever view proof as an argument and I discuss the consequences of these students' narrow view of proof. [For complete proceedings, see ED500860.]
International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. 35 Aandwind Street, Kirstenhof, Cape Town, 7945, South Africa. Tel: +27-21-715-3559; Fax: +27-88-021-715-3559; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A