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Elise Lockwood, Zackery Reed, and Sarah Erickson

Combinatorial proof serves both as an important topic in combinatorics and as a type of proof with certain properties and constraints. We report on a teaching experiment in which undergraduate students (who were novice provers) engaged in combinatorial reasoning as they proved binomial identities. We highlight ways of understanding that were important for their success with establishing combinatorial arguments; in particular, the students demonstrated referential symbolic reasoning within an enumerative representation system, and as the students engaged in successful combinatorial proof, they had to coordinate reasoning within algebraic and enumerative representation systems. We illuminate features of the students’ work that potentially contributed to their successes and highlight potential issues that students may face when working with binomial identities.