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Attitudinal factors affecting the choice of learners of different ages to study Mathematics in post-compulsory education in the context of England Faculty

Attitudinal factors affecting the choice of learners of different ages to study Mathematics in post-compulsory education in the context of England Faculty
Attitudinal factors affecting the choice of learners of different ages to study Mathematics in post-compulsory education in the context of England Faculty
This thesis explores the issue of learners’ attitudes towards mathematics in three dimensions: mathematical self-concept, vision of mathematics, and the affective dimension. Mathematical self-identity and normative influences are also explored. The impact of these components on the decision of learners to study mathematics when they are no longer required to do so is examined, and conclusions drawn about the dominance of each attitudinal factor. The study takes a cross-sectional approach, and explores changes in attitude to mathematics as children grow up. This study utilizes multiple methods by gathering quantitative data using Likert-style questionnaires, and supporting evidence with qualitative data from individual semi-structured interviews. This study provides some answers as to what the attitudes of learners in England are towards mathematics, and how these attitudes differ between students of different ages. The questionnaire data provides statistical insight into learners’ thoughts, feelings about and perceptions of mathematics, whilst the qualitative interview data provides reasons why learners feel as they do. The key findings of the research were that a student’s mathematical self-concept is key to the decision to study mathematics at post-16 level, and that self-concept appears to deteriorate over time. Almost of equal importance was students’ perceptions of how useful mathematics would be for their chosen careers, which again appear to wane as students become older.

Whilst this particular study is anchored to the context of England, the theoretical framework, methodology and subsequent findings have implications for the global context of mathematics education. The focus of this thesis is largely upon how attitude develops and students’ subsequent dispositions to choose post-compulsory mathematics change over time; but there is a compelling body of evidence to suggest that the attitudinal factors explored here have a significant impact upon mathematical performance. This thesis provides a new framework for examining attitude towards mathematics by combining three dimensions of attitude towards mathematics with the subjective norm, and the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Whilst these theoretical notions are used in this thesis to understand the actions of learners in England, they are applicable to the study of this field in the global context of mathematics education. They are also arguably impactful upon policy in England; in terms of teaching, examination and classroom organisation. The use of this theoretical framework combined with a research methodology which is standardised across the crosssections of participants fills the gap in the current knowledge of how attitudes towards mathematics develop in learners as they progress through their education.
University of Southampton
Walker, Claire
57416f25-d9e8-4aa6-8606-9b917a8b1eaa
Walker, Claire
57416f25-d9e8-4aa6-8606-9b917a8b1eaa
Voutsina, Chronoula
bd9934e7-f8e0-4b82-a664-a1fe48850082

Walker, Claire (2018) Attitudinal factors affecting the choice of learners of different ages to study Mathematics in post-compulsory education in the context of England Faculty. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 256pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis explores the issue of learners’ attitudes towards mathematics in three dimensions: mathematical self-concept, vision of mathematics, and the affective dimension. Mathematical self-identity and normative influences are also explored. The impact of these components on the decision of learners to study mathematics when they are no longer required to do so is examined, and conclusions drawn about the dominance of each attitudinal factor. The study takes a cross-sectional approach, and explores changes in attitude to mathematics as children grow up. This study utilizes multiple methods by gathering quantitative data using Likert-style questionnaires, and supporting evidence with qualitative data from individual semi-structured interviews. This study provides some answers as to what the attitudes of learners in England are towards mathematics, and how these attitudes differ between students of different ages. The questionnaire data provides statistical insight into learners’ thoughts, feelings about and perceptions of mathematics, whilst the qualitative interview data provides reasons why learners feel as they do. The key findings of the research were that a student’s mathematical self-concept is key to the decision to study mathematics at post-16 level, and that self-concept appears to deteriorate over time. Almost of equal importance was students’ perceptions of how useful mathematics would be for their chosen careers, which again appear to wane as students become older.

Whilst this particular study is anchored to the context of England, the theoretical framework, methodology and subsequent findings have implications for the global context of mathematics education. The focus of this thesis is largely upon how attitude develops and students’ subsequent dispositions to choose post-compulsory mathematics change over time; but there is a compelling body of evidence to suggest that the attitudinal factors explored here have a significant impact upon mathematical performance. This thesis provides a new framework for examining attitude towards mathematics by combining three dimensions of attitude towards mathematics with the subjective norm, and the Theory of Planned Behaviour. Whilst these theoretical notions are used in this thesis to understand the actions of learners in England, they are applicable to the study of this field in the global context of mathematics education. They are also arguably impactful upon policy in England; in terms of teaching, examination and classroom organisation. The use of this theoretical framework combined with a research methodology which is standardised across the crosssections of participants fills the gap in the current knowledge of how attitudes towards mathematics develop in learners as they progress through their education.

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Final thesis - Claire Walker - Version of Record
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Published date: September 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 430799
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/430799
PURE UUID: 586f40cf-39af-4249-a2ef-9ac43b979a19
ORCID for Chronoula Voutsina: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2196-5816

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 13 May 2019 16:30
Last modified: 14 May 2019 00:34

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