GSE Faculty Awarded Grant from National Science Foundation for Mathematics Education Research

Mathematical proofs are commonly seen across all undergraduate mathematics programs. Students are frequently presented with definitions of new concepts and are asked to read proofs of mathematical theorems regarding those concepts. However, the degree to which students understand these proofs is rarely addressed in mathematics education research.

Dr. Juan Pablo Mejia-Ramos, Assistant Professor, Dr. Keith Weber, Associate Professor, and Dr. Jimmy de la Torre, Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Education (GSE), were recently awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation for their project which focuses on designing and validating proof comprehension tests for undergraduate mathematics majors. The grant totals $200,000 and will contribute to the project, “Validating Proof Comprehension Tests in Mathematics”, led by principal investigator, Dr. Meijia-Ramos. The project began this September and will continue through August 2015. The project is also supported by the Mathematics Department at Rutgers University.

Observing and analyzing the understanding of proofs is important because this is an essential requirement for students to enter STEM disciplines and to teach mathematics effectively. Valuable insight will be gained by evaluating student comprehension and the results will provide effective feedback for mathematicians and researchers looking to address and improve current practices in mathematics education at the university level. The results will also help researchers narrow down and focus on the specific aspects of proofs that students find most challenging.

The proposed project is organized into three phases, in which participating students will complete open-ended proof comprehension assessments, multiple-choice tests, and interviews about these assessments.  

To learn more about the Proof Comprehension Research Group, visit their webpage here.