Comprehension Of Argumentation In Mathematical Text: What Is The Role Of Interest?

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ZDM – Mathematics Education


This article describes the research design and findings from a use-inspired study of online text-based mathematics resources. We sought to understand whether and how existing mathematics interest, together with the learner characteristics of prior coursework in mathematics and proof scheme, influenced comprehension of mathematical argumentation and triggered interest in two types of mathematics text: (1) text featuring concrete, real-world applications (public domain) and (2) text with abstract and generalized modes of expression and content (abstract domain). Using an online assessment and person-centered analyses, we studied 64 (32 M, 32 F) undergraduate students who were and were not pursuing advanced mathematics coursework. Cluster analysis revealed two participant groups. Less mathematically immersed (LMI) participants improved comprehension of mathematical argumentation when working with public domain text, performing comparably to the more mathematically immersed (MMI) cluster in this domain; those in the MMI cluster performed comparably across text domains. In addition, LMI participants were more likely to identify public domain text as more interesting than abstract text, and they also were more likely than those in the MMI group to explain this by citing public rather than abstract domain reasons. Taken together, study findings suggest that interest in coordination with other learner characteristics scaffolds comprehension of mathematical argumentation. This study makes contributions to interest theory, understanding the role of interest in comprehension of mathematical argumentation, and ways in which practitioners might leverage student interest to promote comprehension.


Comprehension, Coursework, Interest, Mathematical argumentation, Proof scheme, Text domain

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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