Department of Education

Research projects

Supporting secondary mathematics teachers to enhance their students’ proof competencies

A primary aim of school mathematics is to enhance all students’ ‘proof competencies’, i.e., their abilities to investigate whether and why ‘things work’ in mathematics by means of logical thinking. Yet secondary students tend to have serious difficulties with proof, while secondary teachers are inadequately supported to enhance their students’ proof competencies.

In a previous classroom-based study we supported two secondary teachers to implement research-based lessons in the area of proof and design their own lessons while covering the national curriculum. The substantial support we offered to the two teachers on an ad hoc basis, which took the form of a Teacher Professional Development Intervention (TPDI), yielded promising student cognitive and attitudinal outcomes as documented mostly by painstaking qualitative analysis and use of generic school data.

Our aim in this project is to do preparatory work to help leverage external funding for the future pre-trial of the effectiveness of the TPDI. Our specific objectives are (1) to further develop the TPDI so as to reduce the need for ad hoc support to teacher participants thus enabling its use on a larger scale, and (2) to develop specialised measures to more systematically document the impact of the TPDI in the future pre-trial and to better understand factors that influence its effectiveness.

External research team members: Dr Andreas Stylianides, University of Cambridge, UK

Related projects include

Andreas Stylianides as Principal Investigator. Enhancing students’ proof competencies in secondary mathematics classrooms. Research project funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Amount: £92,305. Duration: 1 March 2008 – 28 February 2010.

Gabriel Stylianides as Principal Investigator and Andreas Stylianides as Co-Investigator. Preservice teachers’ challenges in beginning to teach mathematics: The activity of reasoning and proving. Research project funded by the Spencer Foundation. Amount: $40,000; funds from other sources: $2,781. Duration of project: 1 October, 2007 – 31 December, 2009.

Gabriel Stylianides as Principal Investigator and Andreas Stylianides as Co-Investigator. Content knowledge for teaching elementary school mathematics. Research project funded by the Spencer Foundation. Amount: $40,000; funds from other sources: $12,904. Duration of project: 1 October, 2006 – 30 September, 2007.

Research Team

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