How persuaded are you? A typology of responses
journal contributionposted on 05.07.2011, 12:14 by Matthew Inglis, Juan P. Mejia-Ramos
Several recent studies have suggested that there are two different ways in which a person can proceed when assessing the persuasiveness of a mathematical argument: by evaluating whether it is personally convincing, or by evaluating whether it is publicly acceptable. In this paper, using Toulmin’s (1958) argumentation scheme, we produce a more detailed theoretical classification of the ways in which participants can interpret a request to assess the persuasiveness of an argument. We suggest that there are (at least) five ways in which such a question can be interpreted. The classification is illustrated with data from a study that asked undergraduate students and research-active mathematicians to rate how persuasive they found a given argument. We conclude by arguing that researchers interested in mathematical conviction and proof validation need to be aware of the different ways in which participants can interpret questions about the persuasiveness of arguments, and that they must carefully control for these variations during their studies.
- Mathematics Education Centre