Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Dr. Denisse R. Thompson.

Keywords

Journals, Reflection, Achievement, Value, Enjoyment, Motivation, Confidence

Abstract

The reform movement in mathematics education has recognized affective factors as an important area where change is needed. This study examined the attitudes toward mathematics of preservice elementary teachers entering an introductory mathematics methods course. The methods course utilized constructivist instructional methods, such as the use of manipulatives, cooperative group work, problem solving, and calculators. Qualitative methods were used to explore participants attitudes toward mathematics and the experiences that have led to the development of these attitudes. The study sought to determine the extent to which preservice teachers attitudes toward mathematics changed during the methods course and the correlation between preservice teachers initial attitudes toward mathematics and their achievement in the methods course.

Thirty-three university students enrolled in one section of a mathematics methods course for elementary education majors completed the Attitudes Toward Mathematics Inventory at the beginning of the semester and again during week 12 of the 15-week semester. Throughout the semester, participants submitted reflective journal entries in which they reflected on their attitudes toward and experiences with mathematics. The instructor responded to each journal. Participants initial survey scores indicated that they valued mathematics, but their scores for Self-Confidence, Enjoyment, and Motivation were somewhat negative. As a whole, participants showed a statistically significant positive change in attitude on the second survey.

In individual interviews, participants who showed significant positive changes in attitude mentioned manipulatives, journals, and the organized format of the course as aspects of the methods course that had positively influenced their attitudes toward mathematics. A statistically significant positive correlation was found between initial attitude survey scores and the methods course departmental final examination, which was used as a measure of achievement. Through their journal entries and interviews, participants offered a clear view of the types of experiences that encouraged the development of positive and negative attitudes toward mathematics. These findings have implications for teacher educators who seek to improve the attitudes toward mathematics of preservice elementary school teachers and for mathematics teachers at all levels.

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