Investigating Mathematics Trainee Teachers’ Conceptions of Proof Writing in Algebra: A Case of One College of Education in Zambia

Kenneth M. Likando, Mapula G. Ngoepe

Abstract


This paper investigates mathematics trainee teachers’ conceptions of proof writing in algebra at Copperbelt College of Education in Zambia. The ability to construct proofs seems to be an important skill for all mathematicians and those who have interest in mathematics education. However, literature shows that proof is widely acknowledged to be one of the most difficult aspects in the mathematics curriculum. The sample comprised of 35 male and 15 female third year mathematics trainee teachers. Data was collected by means of a self-administered questionnaire, a written diagnostic test and oral interviews. The three instruments were used to provide multiple views to triangulate the data. The results show that students seem to understand proof as a verification and confirmation tool. Many of them applied empirical approaches in their written proofs. They did not have sufficient knowledge of the right set of accepted statements such as axioms and could not identify which statements required proofs in mathematics. These findings suggest that students’ conceptions of proof were underdeveloped hence affecting their ability to produce valid proofs. These findings will assist in guiding curricula designers and teachers of proof related knowledge.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n14p331


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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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