Proof in Secondary Classrooms (PISC), funded as part of the CAREER program, would add to the knowledge base on the teaching and learning of proof in the context of the most prevalent course/topic in which proof is taught in the K-12 curriculum, geometry. Given the centrality of the role of proof, and the persistent difficulties in teaching proof in the K-12 and undergraduate curriculum, the topic is of vital importance. The work is novel, focusing on an area of proof that is understudied, the introduction of students to the topic of proof. While building on prior work in proof, PISC will tackle an important area of beginning to teach proof, which may lead to broader innovations at both the K-12 and undergraduate level. PISC will produce a resource, a set of lessons, which can be used widely and are likely to be broadly disseminated based on the PI’s previous NSF-supported work, which has been broadly disseminated to practitioner audiences.
The goal of PISC is to develop an intervention to support the teaching and learning of proof in the context of geometry. PISC takes as its premise that if we introduce proof, by first teaching students particular sub-goals of proof, such as how to draw a conclusion from a given statement and a definition, then students will be more successful with constructing proofs on their own. The 5-year design and development study builds on the researcher’s prior work from a Knowles Science Teaching Fellowship (KSTF) grant to study how teachers introduce proof to students. PISC will build on the prior work to refine a framework for introducing proof developed in the KSTF study. Using this framework the researcher will work with five high school geometry teachers to develop lessons via Lesson Study methods to introduce sub-goals of proof. The PI will study the impact of the use of these lessons on students’ ability to perform proofs, and compare to students of ten teachers who will not have participated in the intervention.