The opaque nature of generic examples: The structure of student teachers' arguments in multiplicative reasoning
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Mathematical Behavior. 2020, . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmathb.2019.100755
The study aims to explore the structural aspects of generic examples, to get better insight into what makes them potentially opaque for learners. We have analyzed 27 written arguments, for which student teachers (grades 1–10) were asked to use a generic example to prove a given statement in multiplication. Using Toulmin’s framework, we developed five categories of arguments based on their structure: examples, empirical arguments, leap arguments, embedded arguments, and other arguments. Also, we conclude that none of the student teachers provided arguments that we recognize as complete generic examples. The results bring us to a discussion about features of generic examples making them difficult to come to grips with, having implications for how teacher educators can support student teachers’ learning to prove. From this, we propose a definition of generic examples that attends to the criteria suggested in previous research, yet, emphasizing their structural nature.