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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/8572

Title: Semantic contamination and mathematical proof: can a non-proof prove?
Authors: Mejia-Ramos, Juan P.
Inglis, Matthew
Keywords: Language
Mathematics
Proof
Reasoning
Semantic contamination
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: © Elsevier
Citation: MEIJA-RAMOS, J.P. and INGLIS, M., 2011. Semantic contamination and mathematical proof: can a non-proof prove? Journal of Mathematical Behaviour, 30 (1), pp. 19-29.
Abstract: The way words are used in natural language can influence how the same words are understood by students in formal educational contexts. Hereweargue that this so-called semantic contamination effect plays a role in determining how students engage with mathematical proof, a fundamental aspect of learning mathematics. Analyses of responses to argument evaluation tasks suggest that students may hold two different and contradictory conceptions of proof: one related to conviction, and one to validity. We demonstrate that these two conceptions can be preferentially elicited by making apparently irrelevant linguistic changes to task instructions. After analyzing the occurrence of “proof” and “prove” in natural language, we report two experiments that suggest that the noun form privileges evaluations related to validity, and that the verb form privileges evaluations related to conviction. In short, we show that (what is judged to be) a non-proof can sometimes (be judged to) prove.
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1016/j.jmathb.2010.11.005
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/8572
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmathb.2010.11.005
ISSN: 0732-3123
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Mathematics Education Centre)

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