Examining the mathematical autobiographies of undergraduate health science students

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Abstract

Numerous studies affirm the importance of students’ attitudes for mathematical education. This study uses mathematical autobiographical essays to examine the mathematical experiences and attitudes of undergraduate students enrolled in mathematics classes at a Midwestern University in the United States. The essays of 41 students (20 men, 21 women) out of 170 enrolled in College Algebra, Precalculus, and Calculus were analyzed using the categories of (1) confidence in mathematics ability, (2) value of mathematics, and (3) liking of mathematics. This paper provides context and theoretical depth to student reports of their attitudes in these categories. Statements at the intersections of both confidence and liking, and value and liking provide additional insights. First, students who perceive mathematics as valuable are more likely to like it. Second, the vast majority of students talk about confidence and liking together, and with a positive correlation. Further, these students tend to talk about liking or not liking mathematics because of their perceived ability in mathematics. Our study suggests the importance of proactive teaching strategies to improve students’ perceptions of the value, liking of, and their confidence in, mathematics, and also suggests self-efficacy as a potential theoretical basis for this work.

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • affect
  • attitude
  • beliefs
  • Mathematical autobiography
  • mathematics education

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