Reading Proofs for Validation and Comprehension: an Expert-Novice Eye-Movement Study

  • Anja PanseEmail author
  • Lara Alcock
  • Matthew Inglis


Does reading a mathematical proof for validation engender different behaviors from reading it for comprehension? Experts and novices each read two mathematical proofs under different sets of instructions: they were asked to understand one proof, and to assess the validity of the other. Their eye movements were recorded while they read and were analyzed to investigate possible differences in attention allocation, in cognitive demand and in the mathematical reading process. We found negligible differences in reading behaviors under the two sets of instructions, and we discuss the implications of this for theoretical development, research methodology and pedagogical practice.


Mathematical texts Reading behavior Proof validation Undergraduate mathematics Experimental methods 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für MathematikUniversität PaderbornPaderbornGermany
  2. 2.Mathematics Education CentreLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK

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