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Changing attitudes to university mathematics through problem solving

By Yudariah bt. Mohammad Yusof and David Tall

Abstract

University mathematics is often presented in a formal way that causes many students to cope by memorising what they perceive as a fixed body of knowledge rather than learning to think for themselves. This research studies the effects on students' attitudes of a course encouraging co-operative problem-solving and reflection on the thinking activities involved. The attitudinal questionnaire was shown to the students' teachers who were asked to specify the attitudes they expect from their students and the attitudes they prefer. This was used to give a ‘desired direction of change’ from expected to preferred. Before the course, half the students responded that university mathematics did not make sense. A majority declared negative attitudes such as anxiety, fear of new problems and lack of confidence. During the problem-solving course the changes were almost all in the desired direction. During the following six months of standard mathematics lecturing, almost all changes were in the opposite direction. \u

Topics: LB2300
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Year: 1998
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:469

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