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Affect, Behavioural Schemas and the Proving Process

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IJMEST Volume 41, Number 2, ISSN 0020-739X


In this largely theoretical article, we discuss the relation between a kind of affect, behavioural schemas and aspects of the proving process. We begin with affect as described in the mathematics education literature, but soon narrow our focus to a particular kind of affect--nonemotional cognitive feelings. We then mention the position of feelings in consciousness because that bears on the kind of data about feelings that students can be expected to be able to report. Next we introduce the idea of "behavioural schemas" as enduring mental structures that link situations to actions, in other words, habits of mind, that appear to drive many mental actions in the proving process. This leads to a discussion of the way feelings can both help cause mental actions and also arise from them. Then we briefly describe a design experiment--a course intended to help advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate mathematics students improve their proving abilities. Finally, drawing on data from the course, along with several interviews, we illustrate how these perspectives on affect and on behavioural schemas appear to explain, and are consistent with, our students' actions. (Contains 2 notes.)


Selden, A., McKee, K. & Selden, J. (2010). Affect, Behavioural Schemas and the Proving Process. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 41(2), 199-215. Retrieved June 10, 2023 from .

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