Mathematics anxiety and the relationship between attitude, sex, ethnicity and achievement in mathematics in three high school curriculum tracks.
AuthorReavis, Pamela Sue
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the attitude of high school students toward mathematics and their achievement in mathematics. Also examined were the variables of the students curriculum track, sex and ethnicity. Students' attitudes were measured through the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scales (MAS), attitude tests given to the students in 19 high school mathematics classes. The sample consisted of 40 students, with equitable representation between the sexes and distributed proportionally throughout the three curriculum tracks. They represented all four high school grades and were enrolled in the various mathematics classes offered at the school. The measure for achievement was the Stanford Achievement Test. These scores along with the ethnicity of the students was obtained by the researcher from student record files. The data treatment confirmed the appropriateness of the instruments used through reliability and validity tests. Findings included significant differences between attitude and achievement in mathematics as well as some significant differences among curriculum tracks and between sexes and ethnic categories. The study's most significant relationship demonstrated that confidence in learning or a positive self-concept results in higher achievement in mathematics. This confidence in learning was not reflected similarly throughout all curriculum tracks, so to the degree that counseling and teacher support can bolster confidence, especially in lower track students, mathematics achievement may be enhanced. Also, the study indicates that teachers play a significant role in attitude development, and consequently, achievement. Further, the study showed that perceptions of mathematics as a male domain differed significantly between sexes, ethnic groups and curriculum tracks. An unexpected finding was that males showed higher levels of mathematics anxiety than females, contrary to previous research findings. Future research, according to the study, is warranted in attitudes and achievement in higher track students with further examination of gender and ethnic differences. Additionally, it would be beneficial for future investigations to use different measures of attitude and achievement.
Degree ProgramTeaching and Teacher Education