Abstract / Synopsis

When we teach mathematics, we strive to teach students to think like mathematicians. In this paper we discuss one particular mathematical habit of mind that students do not naturally display. More specifically our study of voting patterns in data collected from classroom voting questions indicates that the undergraduate students who were in the classes using these questions did not understand the significance of counterexamples to statements, or lacked the ability to construct them, or both. Searching for counterexamples to disprove statements is a natural habit of mind for professional mathematicians. In this paper we give examples, and make some recommendations. We believe that if our students get used to routinely seeking out counterexamples, as they play with various mathematical ideas, they may also end up enjoying their mathematical experiences more.



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© Christopher K. Storm and Holly Zullo

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