# Prototype images in mathematics education: the case of the graphical representation of the definite integral

## Abstract

Many mathematical concepts may have prototypical images associated with them. While prototypes can be beneficial for efficient thinking or reasoning, they may also have self-attributes that may impact reasoning about the concept. It is essential that mathematics educators understand these prototype images in order to fully recognize their benefits and limitations. In this paper, I examine prototypes in a context in which they seem to play an important role: graphical representations of the calculus concept of the definite integral. I use student data to empirically describe the makeup of the definite integral prototype image, and I report on the frequency of its appearance among student, instructor, and textbook image data. I end by discussing the possible benefits and drawbacks of this particular prototype, as well as what the results of this study may say about prototypes more generally.

## Keywords

Calculus Definite integral Graphical representation Prototype Imagery## References

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