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Exploring Computerized Text Analysis to Predict the Validity of Students’ Proof Construction

Fri, April 4, 2:15 to 3:45pm, Marriott, Floor: Fourth Level, Franklin 5


We used two computerized text analysis tools, Coh-Metrix and the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software, to explore how language predicts undergraduates’ mathematical proofs. We analyzed 240 transcripts of students’ justifications of two mathematical tasks and investigated the significant correlations between various linguistic categories and incidence of correct proofs to explore critical language-based differences between valid and invalid proofs. Results showed distinct linguistic patterns for correct and incorrect proofs; multiple regression analysis showed that these categories were significantly predictive of the validity of a proof. This study contributes to our understanding of the role of language in mathematical proof production and demonstrates the vast potential for text analysis tools to elucidate linguistic aspects of students’ emerging disciplinary discourse practices.