Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 95–124 | Cite as

The Interplay of Teacher and Student Actions in the Teaching and Learning of Geometric Proof

  • Tami S. Martin
  • Sharon M. Soucy McCrone
  • Michelle L. Wallace Bower
  • Jaguthsing Dindyal


Proof and reasoning are fundamental aspects of mathematics. Yet, how to help students develop the skills they need to engage in this type of higher-order thinking remains elusive. In order to contribute to the dialogue on this subject, we share results from a classroom-based interpretive study of teaching and learning proof in geometry. The goal of this research was to identify factors that may be related to the development of proof understanding. In this paper, we identify and interpret students' actions, teacher's actions, and social aspects that are evident in a classroom in which students discuss mathematical conjectures, justification processes and student-generated proofs. We conclude that pedagogical choices made by the teacher, as manifested in the teacher's actions, are key to the type of classroom environment that is established and, hence, to students' opportunities to hone their proof and reasoning skills. More specifically, the teacher's choice to pose open-ended tasks (tasks which are not limited to one specific solution or solution strategy), engage in dialogue that places responsibility for reasoning on the students, analyze student arguments, and coach students as they reason, creates an environment in which participating students make conjectures, provide justifications, and build chains of reasoning. In this environment, students who actively participate in the classroom discourse are supported as they engage in proof development activities. By examining connections between teacher and student actions within a social context, we offer a first step in linking teachers' practice to students' understanding of proof.


classroom interaction geometry link between teaching and learning pedagogical choices proof and reasoning secondary school mathematics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tami S. Martin
    • 1
  • Sharon M. Soucy McCrone
    • 1
  • Michelle L. Wallace Bower
    • 2
  • Jaguthsing Dindyal
    • 3
  1. 1.Illinois State UniversityNormalU.S.A.
  2. 2.Mount Saint Mary UniversityU.S.A.
  3. 3.National Institute of EducationSingapore

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