# First-Year Students’ Beliefs about Context Problems in Mathematics in University Science Programmes

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## Abstract

Mathematics-related beliefs play an important role in the willingness to engage in academic activities in mathematics education. Such beliefs might not be consistent with the beliefs students hold about context problems that require sufficient mathematical knowledge and the application of such knowledge to various real-life situations. This study was designed to examine the differences between students’ mathematics-related beliefs and beliefs about context problems. The variations in these beliefs could explain the different amounts of effort students put into solving context problems on one hand and in solving typical mathematical tasks on the other. The study included 261 first-year students: students in one group were enrolled in academically more demanding study programmes (*n* = 162), while students in the other group (*n* = 99) were enrolled in less demanding study programmes. The results revealed significant differences in beliefs between the two groups. A detailed analysis indicates the factors which need to be emphasised when designing problem-based mathematics education to promote the successful problem solving of context problems.

## Key words

Beliefs Context problem Problem-solving difficulty Science study programmes Undergraduate mathematics education## Preview

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