Presentation Title

P-37 When we grade proofs, do our students understand what we’re saying?

Presenter Status

Professor of Mathematics, Department of Mathematics

Second Presenter Status

Department of Mathematics

Third Presenter Status

Department of Mathematics

Fourth Presenter Status

School of Education

Preferred Session

Poster Session

Start Date

30-10-2015 2:00 PM

End Date

30-10-2015 3:00 PM

Presentation Abstract

The ability to write clear, correct proofs is a central goal of the curriculum for undergraduate mathematics majors. In an earlier study Moore (under review) investigated the proof-grading practices of four mathematics professors and showed that these professors devote much time and effort to reading students’ written proofs and marking the papers with corrections and suggestions for improvement. To learn how students interpret and make use of such feedback, we interviewed eight advanced mathematics undergraduates and asked them to respond to professor comments on three or four written proofs. The participants were asked to interpret and justify each comment and then write a revised version of each proof. Using the theoretical frameworks of communities of practice and legitimate peripheral participation, we analyzed the interviews and written data, compared the students’ interpretations of the comments to expert consensus, and identified patterns and commonalities in their responses and actions. A noteworthy finding was that even though students were able to identify and correctly implement the professor’s recommended changes, they sometimes misinterpreted the professor’s intentions.

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Oct 30th, 2:00 PM Oct 30th, 3:00 PM

P-37 When we grade proofs, do our students understand what we’re saying?

The ability to write clear, correct proofs is a central goal of the curriculum for undergraduate mathematics majors. In an earlier study Moore (under review) investigated the proof-grading practices of four mathematics professors and showed that these professors devote much time and effort to reading students’ written proofs and marking the papers with corrections and suggestions for improvement. To learn how students interpret and make use of such feedback, we interviewed eight advanced mathematics undergraduates and asked them to respond to professor comments on three or four written proofs. The participants were asked to interpret and justify each comment and then write a revised version of each proof. Using the theoretical frameworks of communities of practice and legitimate peripheral participation, we analyzed the interviews and written data, compared the students’ interpretations of the comments to expert consensus, and identified patterns and commonalities in their responses and actions. A noteworthy finding was that even though students were able to identify and correctly implement the professor’s recommended changes, they sometimes misinterpreted the professor’s intentions.