Beliefs About Mathematics and Mathematics Learning in the Secondary School: Measurement and Implications for Motivation

  • Peter Kloosterman
Part of the Mathematics Education Library book series (MELI, volume 31)


Students’ beliefs about mathematics and mathematics learning can have a substantial impact on their interest in mathematics, their enjoyment of mathematics, and their motivation in mathematics classes. This chapter has a dual focus with respect to such beliefs. First, an interview instrument to measure personal and environmental beliefs that influence student motivation in mathematics is discussed. Drawing from the mathematics education as well as psychological literatures, the instrument’s questions focus on topics including feelings about school in general, non-school influences on motivation, self-confidence, perceptions of ability, goal orientation, study habits, mathematics content, assessment practices, and expectations of teachers. Second, findings from the instrument that are specific to beliefs about the nature of mathematics are described in the chapter. Findings include the fact that the nature of mathematics is not something secondary students think about. When pressed, however, most of their comments deal with the procedural rather than conceptual aspects of the subject. Students also tend to feel that memorization is an important part of mathematics even though they feel individuals who do not memorize well can still succeed. Taken as a whole, the chapter documents the importance of considering a wide variety of beliefs when trying to understand individual student interest and motivation in mathematics.


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

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  • Peter Kloosterman

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