Causes of Negative Attitudes Toward Mathematics in Eighth Grade Students (FINAL VERSION)

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Dislike of Math CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Overview Why do students and adults alike seem to dislike mathematics? Some will roll their eyes or let out a sigh. They give many reasons, such as It's too hard, I'm not good at math, or why do I even need math? Where does this attitude come from? The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1991) made this statement: One of the curious aspects of our society is that it is socially acceptable to take pride in not being good in mathematics. Is it something that can be changed? First we need to know why. This study will explore the reasons why students dislike mathematics. There are many possible reasons for these attitudes. There have been several studies on math anxiety (Ho, H., Senturk, D., Lam, A., Zimmer, J., Hong, S., Okamoto, S., Nakazawa, Y., Wang, C.,

2000; Ma 1999; Cates & Rymer, 2003) that have attempted to describe the effect math anxiety has on math achievement. It may have something to do with the classroom experience (Schefele & Csikszentmihalyi, 1995). Some students may believe erroneously that they are not math people (Anderson, 2007). Maybe the student fell behind and was unable to catch up because of the sequential nature of mathematics. Its also possible that has to do with the difficulty of a particular grade level (Cates & Rymer, 2003). Maybe the students dont

Dislike of Math understand why they will need mathematics and dont see the real world connections. This study will focus why some students have such a negative attitude about mathematics. Problem of the Study Having a negative attitude toward mathematics may be related to achievement of math students. If students don't like math, they may be able to struggle through the classes and make good grades, but the long-term effect will probably be that they will not pursue the subject any more than they have to. They will certainly not pursue a career in a math related field. If the reasons for this dislike can be determined, then teachers can take steps to change the students attitude. Purpose of the Study This study will seek to determine what student attitudes are about mathematics and in particular, if they dislike math, what are the reasons. Significance of the Study Educators and government officials have been seeking to find ways to increase student achievement in mathematics and science. With many students having a dislike of mathematics, it will be difficult to have meaningful change in achievement. If a particular reason can be found for this dislike, then it may be possible to intervene in a timely manner. Definition of Terminology


Dislike of Math Dislike of math in this study is defined as a negative attitude toward math causing a desire to avoid mathematics classes.

Limitations The survey used for this study was created by the researcher, and was not validated. The students will take the survey during their math class and may feel some pressure to respond positively. This may be from their parents, the teacher or from their peers. Since the sample is eighth grade students their maturity level may prevent them from taking the survey seriously, or they may find it boring. In an attempt to minimize this, the researcher will be present and administer the survey and attempt to explain its importance and emphasize its confidentiality. Summary This study consists of five chapters. Chapter I introduces the study and defines the problem to be investigated. It also includes the purpose, significance, limitations, and defines terms used in the study. Chapter II will review related research. Chapter III describes the methodology and procedures, which includes the population, sample, data collection instruments, procedures, and research questions and related hypothesis. Chapter IV will analyze and discuss the data collected and chapter V will summarize the findings and give any conclusions, recommendations, or implications of the study.


Dislike of Math

CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction Im not good at math, I hate math or math is too hard are common phrases heard by teachers and parents. One of the curious aspects of our society is that it is socially acceptable to take pride in not being good in mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 1991, 16). Where do these attitudes and beliefs come from? Can they be changed? Through reviewing literature, three main ideas surfaced as possible reasons students dislike math: math anxiety, lack of motivation in mathematics, and a negative attitude toward mathematics. Math Anxiety Math anxiety is a condition in which students experience negative reactions to mathematical concepts and evaluation methods (Cates & Rhymer, 2003). Math anxiety can lead to several consequences. For example, Suinn and Richardson (1972) found that mathematics anxiety may prevent students from pursuing higher-level math courses and HO, Senturk, Lam, Zimmer, Hong, Okamoto, Chui, Nakazawa, & Wang (2000) stated, math anxiety has been found to have a negative relationship with mathematics performance and achievement (p.362).


Dislike of Math Anxious individuals may avoid mathematics classes, may be more likely to have negative attitudes toward mathematic related activities, or if they become elementary teachers, may not spend as much time teaching mathematics as their less anxious colleagues (Ho et al., 2000). Several studies have proposed that math anxiety has two dimensions: affective (nervousness, tension, dread, fear) and cognitive (worry) (Meece, Wigfield, & Eccles, 1990; Wigfield & Meece, 1988; Ho et al., 2000). Ho et al. conducted a study across three nations consisting of 671 sixth grade students from China (211, 92 girls and 119 boys), Taiwan (214, 106 girls and 108 boys), and the United States (246, 111 girls and 135 boys). The focus in this study was to address the differential predictions of the affective and cognitive factors of math anxiety for mathematics achievement. For the anxiety measure the MAQ (Math Anxiety Questionnaire) was used. It contained 11 items using a Likert scale and contained items in the cognitive and affective dimensions. For the math achievement dimension, two similar tests were given 4 to 6 weeks apart with reliability coefficient of .82. One third of the items were from textbooks, one-third from another crossnational study, and the other third developed by the researchers. The relationship between the affective math anxiety factor and achievement showed a strong negative effect (p