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Interest development during the first year at university: do mathematical beliefs predict interest in mathematics?

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Abstract

We examined the development of interest in first-year university students in a lower secondary school teachers’ program as well as connections between learners’ belief systems and interest. Students’ mathematics-related belief systems include their personal understanding of the nature of mathematics as a scientific domain (in the present study: aspects of process, application, schema, and formalism). Data (N = 92) on beliefs and mathematical interest were collected at the beginning of the first (T1) and second terms (T3). In addition, students’ interest was assessed at the ends of both terms (T2 and T4). Results showed that (1) students’ interest in mathematics remained stable during the first academic year, (2) application beliefs showed positive correlations with interest in the first but not the second term, and (3) application beliefs at the beginning of the term predicted students’ interest at the end of term in the second but not the first term; moreover, process, schema, and formalism beliefs did not predict interest in the first or in the second term. We discuss these results with respect to the influence of belief systems on interest but also with respect to possible effects that are based on differences between school mathematics and university mathematics.

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Liebendörfer, M., Schukajlow, S. Interest development during the first year at university: do mathematical beliefs predict interest in mathematics?. ZDM Mathematics Education 49, 355–366 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11858-016-0827-3

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