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SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ UNDERSTANDING OF MATHEMATICAL INDUCTION: STRUCTURAL CHARACTERISTICS AND THE PROCESS OF PROOF CONSTRUCTION

  • Marina Palla
  • Despina Potari
  • Panagiotis Spyrou
Article

Abstract

In this study, we investigate the meaning students attribute to the structure of mathematical induction (MI) and the process of proof construction using mathematical induction in the context of a geometric recursion problem. Two hundred and thirteen 17-year-old students of an upper secondary school in Greece participated in the study. Students’ responses in 3 written tasks and the interviews with 18 of them are analyzed. Though MI is treated operationally in school, the students, when challenged, started to recognize the structural characteristics of MI. In the case of proof construction, we identified 2 types of transition from argumentation to proof, interwoven in the structure of the geometrical pattern. In the first type, MI was applied to the algebraic statement that derived from the direct translation of the geometrical situation. In the second type, MI was embedded functionally in the geometrical structure of the pattern.

Key words

geometrical pattern mathematical induction proof structure of natural numbers 

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Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marina Palla
    • 1
  • Despina Potari
    • 1
  • Panagiotis Spyrou
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of AthensAthensGreece

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