Transition to secondary school: A help or hindrance to mathematics learning?

Year: 1996

Author: Fullarton, Sue

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Transition from primary to secondary school in Victoria, Australia, occurs after seven years of compulsory schooling, and many secondary schools have set up transition networks and specific transition programs for students entering from primary school. The change from primary to secondary systems is frequently seen by teachers, students and parents as problematic, with a perceived change from a close, nurturing environment to a more impersonal and subject orientated one. The transition in mathematics in particular poses problems for some students, and it has been argued both that transition creates problems in students' mathematics education and that mathematics contributes to the difficulties of students in transition. Many students enter year seven confidently and with an enjoyment of mathematics that proceeds to disappear during their first years at secondary school.

This paper reports on the initial stages of a larger longitudinal study that investigates students' beliefs about strategies for success in mathematics and whether they are personally capable of succeeding, engagement in learning and beliefs about mathematics and ability. The long-term aim of the study is to be able to identify students at risk of failure in secondary school mathematics from the pattern of beliefs held in grade six.