Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 96, Issue 1, pp 49–64 | Cite as

“Mathematics is like a lion”: Elementary students’ beliefs about mathematics

  • Zvia Markovits
  • Helen Forgasz


The aim of this study was to explore the beliefs of elementary school students about mathematics and about themselves as mathematics learners. The participants, Israeli grade 4 and grade 6 students, completed questionnaires. Using an “animal metaphor” to tap beliefs, some students perceived mathematics as difficult and complicated, while for others, mathematics was connected to wisdom. The data from other questionnaire items indicated that students at both grade levels generally did not enjoy learning mathematics, but believed it was very important to study this subject. They also believed that they were good at mathematics, but the grade 6 students’ self-perceptions of achievement were lower than those of the grade 4 students. Compared to the boys, the girls in both grades 4 and 6 expressed lower perceptions of their mathematics achievement levels.


Beliefs Mathematics Gender Metaphors Elementary students 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the ArtsTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Monash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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