Friday, January 24, 2014

Portfolio Project in a Proofs Course

In a post on this blog dated August 13, 2013, I expressed my opinions about the importance of writing in the introduction to proofs course.  At Grand Valley State University, our introduction to proofs course, MTH 210 Communicating in Mathematics, is in the university's Supplemental Writing Skills (SWS) Program.  Following is a description of this program that I include in my course syllabus.

MTH 210 is a designated SWS (Supplemental Writing Skills) as described in the GVSU catalog.  Completion of Writing  150 with a grade of C or better (not C-) is a prerequisite.  SWS credit will not be given to a student who completes this course before completing Writing 150.  SWS courses adhere to certain guidelines.  Students turn it a total of at least 3000 words of writing during the semester.  Part of that total may be essay exams, but a substantial amount of it is made up of finished essays or reports or research papers.  The instructor works with the students on revising drafts of their papers, rather than simply grading the finished pieces of writing.  At least four hours of class time are devoted to writing instruction.  At least one-third of the final grade is based on the writing assignments.

The primary assignment that the professors at Grand Valley use to satisfy this requirement is the so-called Portfolio Project.  My version of the portfolio project this semester consists of ten mathematical problems and one expository essay that will require a proof of at least one mathematical result.

Instead of describing this project here, you can click on the following links to download the three documents that I am using for this project.

I also plan to make these documents available on the website for Mathematical Reasoning: Writing and Proof.  If you are an instructor and are interested in obtaining the LaTeX files for these documents, please contact me at

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