University of Minnesota
teaching with writing
center for writing

Teaching With Writing.Center for Writing's home page.


On writing in Mathematics (for use in syllabi)

Mathematics is often described as a non-verbal discipline, one in which thinking and the communication of thinking is done purely in numerical systems. However, most mathematics instructors design and use word problems to help students learn and apply mathematical concepts. Common also are assignments in which students are asked to provide verbal explanations of mathematical concepts and methods they used in finding solutions. According to Annalisa Crannell, mathematics scholar, professor and author of Guide to Writing in Mathematics, "professional mathematicians spend most of their time writing: communicating with colleagues, applying for grants, publishing papers, writing memos and syllabi. Writing well is extremely important to mathematicians, since poor writers have a hard time getting published, getting attention from … deans, and obtaining funding. It is ironic but true that most mathematicians spend more time writing than they spend doing mathematics."

Sample syllabi in Mathematics

Mathematics 189 | Experiencing Mathematics Through Writing
Formal and informal writing assignments (Cornell University)

Mathematics 4428 | Mathematical Modeling
Two presentations (with written proposals) based on modeling a problem, determining a solution, and communicating the results

Mathematics 300-level | Introduction to Euclidean Geometry
Translating proofs and theorems into English and writing new proofs using a combination of prose and mathematical language (University of Hawaii, Mānoa)

Mathematics 400-level | Advanced Algebra
Five proofs written in English and transposed into mathematical language (University of Hawaii, Mānoa)

Sample assignments in Mathematics

Mathematics 189 | Formal Paper #1
2-3 page compare and contrast essay (Cornell University)

Mathematics 189 | Final Formal Writing Assignment
5-7 page paper on a student-selected topic (Cornell University)

Mathematics 3283W | Guidelines
Overview of considerations for writing in mathematics

Mathematics 3283W | Assignment 1
Student writes for a calculus textbook assignment

Mathematics 3283W | Assignment 8
Explanation of ways in which the Alternating-Series Test estimates the value of an infinite. series

Mathematics 4428 | Midterm Presentation
Handout focusing on the basics of mathematical modeling

Mathematics 4428 | Final Presentation
Handout outlining format and requirements for the presentations

General Mathematics | Portfolio Project in Mathematics
Portfolio for future math instructors includes a cover letter, reflections, and a short paper (University of Wisconsin - Madison)

General Mathematics | Writing a Math Autobiography
Short diagnostic (Colorado State)

Sample responding handout in Mathematics

Mathematics 2374 | Specific Advice on Lab Reports
Suggestions to help students improve their writing process

Sample grading rubric in Mathematics

General Mathematics | Problem-Report Grading and Checklist
For mathematics essays (University of Wisconsin - Madison)

Research strategies in Mathematics

Mathematics Library

Mathematics on the Web (AMS)

Additional writing resources for instructors in Mathematics

MathDL Mathematical Communication

Teaching Communication Skills

The Language of Mathematics (Montana State University)

College, University, and Community College Mathematics and Math Related Departments (Math Archives)

Writing Projects in Math Classes (Franklin & Marshall College)

Writing for a Math Class, For the Instructor (Platonic Realms Minitext)

Library Support for Instructors

Additional writing resources for students in Mathematics

Math Archives

Writing Projects in Math Classes (Franklin & Marshall College)

The MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive (University of St. Andrews, Scotland)

Writing Mathematics (London Mathematical Society)

Writing for a Math Class, For the Student (Platonic Realms Minitext)

Related research in Mathematics

Math and Related Resources (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Works cited

Crannell, Annalisa. A Guide to Writing in Mathematics Classes. Franklin & Marshall College. 1994. 31 Jan. 2003. <