## Abstract

The attitude construct is widely used by teachers and researchers in mathematics education. Often, however, teachers’ diagnosis of ‘negative attitude’ is a causal attribution of students’ failure, perceived as global and uncontrollable, rather than an accurate interpretation of students’ behaviour, capable of steering future action. In order to make this diagnosis useful for dealing with students’ difficulties in mathematics, it is necessary to clarify the construct *attitude* from a theoretical viewpoint, while keeping in touch with the practice that motivates its use. With this aim, we investigated how students tell their own relationship with mathematics, proposing the essay “Me and maths” to more than 1,600 students (1st to 13th grade). A multidimensional characterisation of a student’s attitude towards mathematics emerges from this study. This characterisation and the study of the evolution of attitude have many important consequences for teachers’ practice and education. For example, the study shows how the relationship with mathematics is rarely told as stable, even by older students: this result suggests that it is never too late to change students’ attitude towards mathematics.

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## Notes

Besides the authors, several Italian researchers participated in the Project: P. Ferrari (Alessandria); M. Polo (Cagliari); F. Furinghetti, F. Morselli (Genova); N. Malara (Modena); R. Tortora, D. Iannece, V. Vaccaro, M. Mellone (Napoli).

The bibliography related to T-lab is available on-line: http://www.tlab.it/en/presentazione.asp.

The essays were translated by a bilingual expert, who tried to keep the sense of jargon terms and expressions as closer as possible to the original one.

Here, as well as in the next excerpts, the first number refers to the class level, the letter refers to the school level (Primary/Middle/High), the last number indicates the progressive numbering of the essay within the category.

We follow Pajares and Miller (1994), who see

*perceived competence in mathematics*as part of*mathematical self-concept*, which includes beliefs of self-worth.This can be partly explained by the higher relevance of assessment starting from middle school level.

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This article is an extended written version of the regular lecture given by Rosetta Zan at ICME 11 (Monterrey, Mexico, July 6–13 2008).

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Di Martino, P., Zan, R. ‘Me and maths’: towards a definition of attitude grounded on students’ narratives.
*J Math Teacher Educ* **13**, 27–48 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-009-9134-z

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-009-9134-z

### Keywords

- Attitude towards mathematics
- Teachers’ education
- Students’ failure in mathematics
- Narrative research