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ERIC Number: EJ1022761
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Apr
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0036-6803
Are You Convinced? Middle-Grade Students' Evaluations of Mathematical Arguments
Bieda, Kristen N.; Lepak, Jerilynn
School Science and Mathematics, v114 n4 p166-177 Apr 2014
Students learn norms of proving by observing teachers generating proofs, engaging in proving, and generalizing features of proofs deemed convincing by an authority, such as a textbook. Students at all grade levels have difficulties generating valid proof; however, little research exists on students' understandings about what makes a mathematical argument convincing prior to more formal instruction in methods of proof. This study investigated middle-school students' (ages 12-14) evaluations of arguments for a statement in number theory. Students evaluated both an empirical and a general argument in an interview setting. The results show that students tend to prefer empirical arguments because examples enhance an argument's power to show that the statement is true. However, interview responses also reveal that a significant number of students find arguments to be most convincing when examples are supported with an explanation that "tells why" the statement is true. The analysis also examined the alignment of students' reasons for choosing arguments as more convincing along with the strategies they employ to make arguments more convincing. Overall, the findings show middle-school students' conceptions about what makes arguments convincing are more sophisticated than their performance in generating arguments suggests.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A