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(Which) Mathematics Interest is Important for a Successful Transition to a University Study Program?

Abstract

Students’ personal interest is hypothesized to be an important resource for learning, but only a few empirical studies have investigated the effect of interest on academic achievement and motivational outcomes of university studies. This lack of empirical studies is remarkable, because inadequate individual prerequisites are considered one reason for study drop-out. High drop-out rates in mathematics studies highlight students’ difficulties at the transition from school to university mathematics. The main aim of this contribution is to analyze the impact of cognitive learning prerequisites and mathematics interest on the outcomes in the first semester of a university mathematics program. In line with person–object theories of interest, we differentiate interest facets that reflect the changing nature of mathematics at the transition. We report results of a prediction study with 202 students enrolled in a university mathematics program. Correlation analyses show weak relations between interest and cognitive prerequisites. Regression analyses indicate that interest in proof and formal representations is a strong predictor for study satisfaction and motivation, whereas only cognitive prerequisites show an impact on achievement. Our results indicate how and to what extent the specified instruments measuring individual interests may inform study guidance before and student support during the first semester of a university mathematics program.

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Notes

  1. The final school qualification grade is similar to the GPA and consists of grades in many courses in the last 2 years and performance in exams in the last year of schooling.

  2. The sample size of each subsample (bachelor vs. teacher) provides sufficient statistical power to identify a medium effect for each predictor in the final model (α = .05, β = .80, f2 = .15).

  3. The sample size provides sufficient statistical power to identify a small effect for each single predictor in the final model (α = .05, β = .80, f2 = .04).

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Kosiol, T., Rach, S. & Ufer, S. (Which) Mathematics Interest is Important for a Successful Transition to a University Study Program?. Int J of Sci and Math Educ 17, 1359–1380 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10763-018-9925-8

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Keywords

  • Interest and learning
  • Interest in mathematics
  • Study satisfaction
  • Study success
  • Transition from school to university mathematics