The mathematics of success: Beyond questionnaires

Year: 1995

Author: Leder, Gilah, Bishop, Alan, Pearn, Catherine, Brew, Christine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper we report on the first part of a three year study conducted in eight Victorian, state co-educational secondary schools.

Year 7 and 9 students were surveyed and interviewed, along with their parents, about their attitudes towards mathematicslearning. All mathematics classes were videotaped for a minimum of three sessions. These videos targeted children who had been identfied by their teachers as being either successful or unsuccessful with their mathematics learning.

Our results reinforced earlier findings about gender in relation to anxiety, perception of mathematics as a male domain and attribution for success and failure. We also explored different factors such as perceived rating at mathematics, the influence ofpeers, teacher, school type, parent aspirations and parent experience of mathematics. During interviews, girls raised issues of apparently less concern to boys.

While most students believed that their parents would like them to be better at mathematics, parents appeared accepting of the level of achievement in mathematics reached by their children. Some parents indicated geographic convenience influenced thechoice of school for their child, others looked more intently at the different programs offered.

Teacher assessment of their students' mathematics achievement, using class test results, revealed differences between the students' perceived rating and actual rating of their mathematical achievement in relation to their peers. Differences in student attitudesto mathematics were noted when questionnaire results were compared on the basis of students' perceived and their actual rating of their mathematical ability