chapter  5
14 Pages

Doing Undergraduate Mathematics: Questions of Knowledge and Authority

In the previous chapter, I began to explore how students draw on particular discourses of mathematics as they construct and take up the various available spaces for mathematical identities at the undergraduate level. I continue this theme in this chapter, examining their epistemologies of mathematics in more detail, and their narratives of mathematics teaching and learning. A number of recurrent themes and connections emerge from the interviews with the firstyear group which are indicative of particular patterns in their beliefs about the nature of mathematics and their own relationships to it as learners in the university mathematics community-both are encapsulated in what they say about proof, as I will show in this chapter. I will suggest that the students’ selfpositionings with regard to mathematics in general and proof in particular are best understood when viewed within the context of the discourses of power and authority which dominate their accounts, and which appear to foreground some epistemological frameworks while obscuring others.