The University of Montana
Department of Mathematical Sciences

Technical report #6/2014

Exploring Creativity: From the mathematics classroom to the mathematician's mind

Ann Kajander, Dominic Manuel, Bharath Sriraman

Abstract

Learners of mathematics do not typically experience mathematics as a creative subject, yet research mathematicians often describe their field as a highly creative endeavour (Burton, 2004). The term creativity has sometimes come to imply eminent acts/products/achievements, yet research suggests that creative thinking is an everyday occurrence (Craft, 2002). In this working group we sought to capture the essence of mathematical creativity as seen through the eyes of mathematicians and described by current research, and express it in ways that might also be applicable to learners of mathematics including, but not restricted to, students described as highly able. Our initial questions for consideration included: What is mathematical creativity? Does it differ from other kinds of creativity? How can we observe it in learners? Is creativity necessary for mathematics research? How can creativity be enhanced in classroom mathematics learning? Are some students more mathematically creative than others? Time was allowed during the working group meetings for those participants who wished to be generative; in particular, the construction or sharing of classroom tasks that had potential for occasioning creative behaviour was a focus for some participants. Such tasks could be illustrative to teachers who wish to provide potentially rich learning environments to students, and samples are included in this report.

Keywords: Mathematical Proof; Algorithms; Visual proofs

AMS Subject Classification: 97

Preprint of Proceedings of the 2013 Annual Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group, Working Group on Creativity Pdf (318 KB)