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ERIC Number: EJ764983
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Jul
Pages: 30
Abstractor: Author
ISSN: ISSN-0021-8251
Students' Conceptions of a Mathematical Definition
Zaslavsky, Orit; Shir, Karni
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, v36 n4 p317-346 Jul 2005
This article deals with 12th-grade students' conceptions of a mathematical definition. Their conceptions of a definition were revealed through individual and group activities in which they were asked to consider a number of possible definitions of four mathematical concepts: two geometric and two analytic. Data consisted of written responses to questionnaires and transcriptions of videotaped group discussions. The findings point to three types of students' arguments: mathematical, communicative, and figurative. In addition, two types of reasoning were identified surrounding the contemplation of alternative definitions: for the geometric concepts, the dominant type of reasoning was a definition-based reasoning; for the analytic concepts, the dominant type was an example-based reasoning. Students' conceptions of a definition are described in terms of the features and roles they attribute to a mathematical definition. (Contains 3 figures, 6 tables and 4 footnotes.)
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 12
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Israel