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Students don't like reading proofs – but they absolutely hate being asked to prove things themselves. There's usually very little time available in a pure maths syllabus (beyond the first year, anyhow) for general sessions on mathematical proofs.

In 1996, a bunch of us, John Taylor, David Buontempo, Jill Cassell and Shirleen Stibbe, persuaded the Open University to allow us to run an annual whole-day Proofs Workshop for all the pure mathematics students in the South East region of the UK.

The idea was to remind them of some of the standard proof methods, and try to boost their confidence in finding and constructing proofs for themselves.

Here's the optimum timetable that evolved over the 12 years I was involved with the workshops:

There were 2 ways we tried to point out some of the traps students consistently fall into:

1) In the 'Example proofs' sessions, we presented the flaky proofs with a straight face, and showed them why they were wrong in the following session (Were you convinced?)

Click on the icons below to see examples.

Direct Biconditional Biconditional

true statement false statement

2) We invited them to mark and 'fix' an incorrect attempt in the Investigation session. Click the 'More Proofs Stuff' button for examples you can download.

And there's more Proofs stuff on this page

Health warning: This is not official Open University material. All errors, misconceptions and misleading statements are my very own