Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 91, Issue 1, pp 87–106 | Cite as

Undergraduate mathematics students’ emotional experiences in Linear Algebra courses

  • Gustavo Martínez-SierraEmail author
  • María del Socorro García-González


Little is known about students’ emotions in the field of Mathematics Education that go beyond students’ emotions in problem solving. To start filling this gap this qualitative research has the aim to identify emotional experiences of undergraduate mathematics students in Linear Algebra courses. In order to obtain data, retrospective focus group interviews were carried out with 27 students. Data analysis is based on the theory of cognitive structure of emotions, which specifies eliciting conditions for each emotion and the variables that affect intensity of emotions. Results show that the participants’ emotional experiences in Linear Algebra courses are: satisfaction and disappointment emotions, fear emotions, distress emotions and self-reproach emotions. These emotions are triggered by the appraisal of different situations like the difficulty attributed to Linear Algebra courses, solving problems, asking questions in class, going to the blackboard to solve problems and failure in a course. The students’ emotional experiences are based on their appraisal of the situations in terms of specific goals and standards. Some implications for future research on affect in Mathematics Education are discussed.


Emotions in mathematics education Students’ emotions Theory of cognitive structure of emotions Linear Algebra 



The research reported in this article was supported by the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico (CONACYT, Basic Scientific Research 2012: 178564) and by Autonomous University of Guerrero (México). We appreciate the help of the teacher Ofelia Montelongo in conducting the fieldwork and the help of Marisa Miranda Tirado in revising this manuscript. We are very grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions for improving this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gustavo Martínez-Sierra
    • 1
    Email author
  • María del Socorro García-González
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Centre of Mathematics Education of Mathematics Academic UnitAutonomous University of GuerreroChilpancingoMexico
  2. 2.Research Centre of Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute of MexicoMexicoMexico

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